The hypermobile cities of India stood still with the onset of COVID- 19- induced lockdowns. Public transport services were the first to be suspended, and older adults in particular were instructed not to leave their homes (Press Information Bureau (PIB), 2020). Even with the easing of lockdown and the resumption of limited public transport, older adults were ‘restricted’ from using services as per the pandemic- related advisories issued by the state. Mobility, which is central to active aging, health status, and well- being (World Health Organization (WHO), 2007) of older adults, was affected by this exclusion in the public transport system. The short- and medium- term implications of such lockdown protocols towards the (im)mobility of older adults requires attention. Given the Indian urban transport scenario, the dependence of older adults (particularly those from low- income groups) on public transport and the inadequate public transport infrastructure is relevant to contextualize the pandemic advisories.
This chapter uses the case of Bengaluru city in southern India to highlight how transport protocols issued during the COVID- 19 pandemic impacted older adults’ (im)mobility. Even before the lockdown was rolled out on March 24, 2020, Bengaluru’s public transport system had been struggling to cater to passenger demand. With physical distancing norms in place, which reduced ridership and trip number, it has become more difficult for passengers in general, and older adult passengers in particular, to access public transport. In Bengaluru, a large proportion of older adults are mobile, work in the informal sector, and earn a low income. They cannot afford private transportation and are therefore dependent on public transport (Baindur and Rao, 2016).
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