Free Public Bus Rides for Elderly on Weekends in BSB, Brunei Darussalam

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To create a country with a high quality of living as set out in Wawasan 2035, the government should consider making public bus transport free for the elderly every weekends in BSB.

Making public transport free among the elderlies may confer significant population health benefits through increased incidental physical activity (Coronini-Cronberg, et al, 2012). According to the US Center of Disease and Control, the loss of strength and stamina attributed to aeging is in part caused by reduced physical activity. Hence, providing free public transport would encourage our seniors, particularly those of lower income, to be more active and develop their health and well-being.

The policy would also encourage our elderlies to socialise with their peers, allowing for a decrease in incidence of mental health issues associated by being lonely, depressed (Reinhard et al., 2018) or neglected at home. This is even truer especially when many have been cooped up at home during the years of COVID-19 restrictions. Consequently, our elderlies can be much more happier being out with their peers in the city with the free transport.

Above all, the policy makes the transport system more inclusive for our elderly. I know a 70+ year old elderly who cannot drive due to health issues, but is still very active going around. His main mode of transport: the bus. Here, we need to recognise how buses can be crucial for our elderlies. Much like any other individuals, we need to take into account their quality of life, sense of freedom and independence.

Indeed, in a UCL-led study, UK elderlies who have been conferred benefits of transport free bus travel are “likely to report better quality of life, greater life satisfaction and fewer depressive symptoms” (Jackson et al., 2019) than peers who are not eligible for the programme.

To accomplish this policy, the government should mandate bus transport operators to waive the BND$0.50 cent ride within Bandar Seri Begawan only for those 60 years old and above. The policy do not need to be every day, as it would lead to abuses in the system and an increase operating costs to the bus operators, as reported in a US study (Perone, 2002). Hence, why the policy can be to the age group, to the weekend and within the city only.

I believe our elderly deserves more in the country. They have done so much to develop this nation. It would be fitting to pay homage to their sacrifice by making public bus transport free. Before anyone pan this idea as ‘wasteful spending’ or as not ‘worthy of attention’, it would be best for everyone to reflect on their own age. For by 2050, approximately a third of us are going to be 60 years and above, according to the UN. Hence, this policy benefits the elderly as is for the soon-to-be-elderly.

So as a caring society, I believe the proposed policy is the right thing to do. I hope the idea gets considered by the relevant authorities and stakeholders.

Abdul Malik Omar

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