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RE: [sustran] Re: [KyotoWorldCities] Equitable Transportation

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  • Todd Alexander Litman
    It is true that transportation equity can be evaluated in various ways and that special interest groups often use equity concerns to advance their own agenda,
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 27, 2012
      It is true that transportation equity can be evaluated in various ways and
      that special interest groups often use equity concerns to advance their own
      agenda, but it tends to be an important concern in transport policy and
      planning decision-making, and there is a good body of literature on
      transport equity analysis. There are three major categories of transport

      1. Horizontal Equity (also called fairness) is concerned with whether
      each individual or group is treated equally, assuming that their needs and
      abilities are comparable. It suggests that people with comparable incomes
      and needs should receive an equal share of public resources and benefits,
      and bear an equal burden of public costs. It implies that costs should be
      borne by users unless a subsidy is specifically justified (i.e., the “user
      pays principle”).

      2. Vertical Equity With Regard to Income considers the allocation of
      costs between different income classes, assuming that public policies should
      favor people who are economically disadvantaged. Policies that provide a
      proportionally greater benefit to lower-income groups are called
      progressive, while those that make lower-income people relatively worse off
      are called regressive.

      3. Vertical Equity With Regard to Mobility Need and Ability considers
      whether a transportation system provides adequate service to people who have
      special transportation needs (i.e., they are transportation disadvantaged).
      It justifies facility design features and special mobility services that
      provide access to people with disabilities. It suggests that public
      subsidies should be used to provide Basic Access to transportation
      disadvantaged people.

      Equity analysis is complicated by the fact that there are many types of
      impacts to consider and people can be grouped in various ways. A particular
      policy may seem equitable and justified when evaluated one way but not in
      another. It is therefore important that decision-makers understand these
      different perspectives and measurement units. I agree with Gabe that road
      pricing is often portrayed as regressive and therefore inequitable, although
      it is generally more equitable than other road funding options, particularly
      if there are good alternatives to driving. This is why most experts argue
      that a portion of road pricing revenues should be used to improve transport

      For more information see:

      Anvita Arora and Geetam Tiwari (2007), A Handbook for Socio-economic Impact
      Assessment (SEIA) of Future Urban Transport (FUT) Projects, Transportation
      Research and Injury Prevention Program (TRIPP), Indian Institute of
      Technology (http://tripp.iitd.ernet.in); at

      Judith Bell and Larry Cohen (2009), The Transportation Prescription: Bold
      New Ideas for Healthy, Equitable Transportation Reform in America,
      PolicyLink and the Prevention Institute Convergence Partnership

      David J. Forkenbrock and Glen E. Weisbrod (2001), Guidebook for Assessing
      the Social and Economic Effects of Transportation Projects, NCHRP Report
      456, Transportation Research Board, National Academy Press (www.trb.org).

      David Forkenbrock and Jason Sheeley (2004), Effective Methods for
      Environmental Justice Assessment, National Cooperative Highway Research
      Program (NCHRP) Report 532, Transportation Research Board (www.trb.org);
      available at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/nchrp_rpt_532.pdf.

      Todd Litman (2002), “Evaluating Transportation Equity,” World Transport
      Policy & Practice (http://ecoplan.org/wtpp/wt_index.htm), Volume 8, No. 2,
      Summer, pp. 50-65; revised version at www.vtpi.org/equity.pdf.

      Todd Litman (2006), You CAN Get There From Here: Evaluating Transportation
      Diversity, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (www.vtpi.org); at
      www.vtpi.org/choice.pdf; originally published as, “You Can Get There From
      Here: Evaluating Transportation Choice,” Transportation Research Record
      1756, TRB (www.trb.org), 2001, pp. 32-41

      Todd Litman and Marc Brenman (2011), A New Social Equity Agenda For
      Sustainable Transportation, Paper 12-3916, Transportation Research Board
      Annual Meeting (www.trb.org); at www.vtpi.org/equityagenda.pdf.

      Karen Lucas (2004), Running on Empty: Transport, Social Exclusion and
      Environmental Justice, Policy Press

      Caroline Rodier, John E. Abraham, Brenda N. Dix and John D. Hunt (2010),
      Equity Analysis of Land Use and Transport Plans Using an Integrated Spatial
      Model, Report 09-08, Mineta Transportation Institute
      (www.transweb.sjsu.edu); at

      Thomas W. Sanchez, Richard Stolz and Jacinta S. Ma (2003), Moving to Equity:
      Addressing Inequitable Effects of Transportation Policies on Minorities, The
      Harvard University Civil Rights Project (www.civilrightsproject.harvard.edu)
      and the Center for Community Change (www.communitychange.org).

      K.H. Schaeffer and Elliot Sclar (1980), Access for All, Columbia University
      Press (New York).

      Lisa Schweitzer and Brian Taylor (2008), “Just Pricing: The Distributional
      Effects Of Congestion Pricing And Sales Taxes,” Transportation, Vol. 35, No.
      6, pp. 797–812 (www.springerlink.com/content/l168327363227298); summarized
      in “Just Road Pricing,” Access 36 (www.uctc.net/access); Spring 2010, pp.
      2-7; at www.uctc.net/access/36/access36.pdf.

      SDC (2011), Fairness in a Car Dependent Society, Sustainable Development
      Commission (www.sd-commission.org.uk); at

      Jamie E.L. Spinney, Darren M. Scott, and K. Bruce Newbold (2009), “Transport
      Mobility Benefits And Quality Of Life: A Time-Use Perspective Of Elderly
      Canadians,” Transport Policy, Vol. 16, Is. 1, January, Pages 1-11.

      TRB (2011), Equity of Evolving Transportation Finance Mechanisms, Special
      Report 303, Transportation Research Board (www.trb.org); at

      Asha Weinstein Agrawal (2011), Getting Around When You’re Just Getting By:
      The Travel Behavior and Transportation Expenditures of Low-Income Adults,
      Mineta Transportation Institute (www.transweb.sjsu.edu); at

      Todd Litman
      Victoria Transport Policy Institute (www.vtpi.org)
      Phone & Fax 250-360-1560
      1250 Rudlin Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 3R7, CANADA
      “Efficiency - Equity - Clarity”

      -----Original Message-----
      From: sustran-discuss-bounces+litman=vtpi.org@...
      [mailto:sustran-discuss-bounces+litman=vtpi.org@...] On Behalf
      Of Gabriel Roth
      Sent: February-22-12 10:33 AM
      To: Eric Bruun
      Cc: NewMobilityCafe@yahoogroups.com; WorldTransport@yahoogroups.com;
      KyotoWorldCities@yahoogroups.com; sustran-discuss@...
      Subject: [sustran] Re: [KyotoWorldCities] Equitable Transportation

      Eric -

      Of course you are right that "equity" is brought into these discussions.
      Often by those who do not like markets or the principle of "user pays"? So,
      it may well be "inescapable", but I do my best to escape it as I consider it
      a distraction from transport and land use issues.

      I wish others would avoid "equity" on transport lists, or at least define it
      properly if they feel impelled to discuss it.

      Best wishes -


      On Feb 22, 2012, at 10:50 AM, Eric Bruun wrote:

      > Gabriel
      > I see your point that much of the discussion of equity isn't really
      transport specific.
      > But I think that the concept of equity is, to some extent, inescapable
      when discussing roads and urban development, since it involves public policy
      on investment, pricing, taxes, subsidies, potential discrimination against
      people whose age or health prevents them from using certain transport modes,
      > Eric B 2
      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: Gabriel Roth
      > Sent: Feb 22, 2012 5:34 PM
      > To: Eric Bruun , KyotoWorldCities@yahoogroups.com
      > Cc: NewMobilityCafe@yahoogroups.com, WorldTransport@yahoogroups.com,
      > Subject: Re: [KyotoWorldCities] Equitable Transportation
      > Eric -
      > My comment was made in the light of a recent exchange with the esteemed
      other Eric, which I reproduce below.
      > However, more fundamentally, many concerns about "Equity" in transport
      relate to income inequality, and with the reality that those with more money
      can get better deals. But this is fundamental to the market system, which
      enables some to be richer than others. What I meant was that objections to
      the market system (which has been found to be best at raising overall living
      standards) are better discussed elsewhere, not on a site dealing with roads
      and urban development.
      > I suppose I could have written more about "Equity" which, incidentally, is
      rarely defined by those who use that word. Do those who write about
      transport "equity" consider the equity of forcing low-income taxpayers to
      subsidize rail systems used mostly (in the UK and US) by those with higher
      incomes? Or the "equity" of requiring all in congested traffic to travel at
      the same, low, speed? Or of subsidizing high-cost unionized transit systems,
      while prohibiting low-cost, high-frequency, transit provided by shared taxis
      and associations of privately-owned minibuses?
      > This is why some of us have been focusing on trying to get the most
      benefits out of our roads by applying to them the pricing and investment
      criteria we use for the allocation of other scarce resources, such as food,
      water and telecommunications. Such policies would enable those with urgent
      needs to be able pay more to travel more quickly, as in the Singapore and
      Stockholm congestion pricing zones. Many know that Singapore and Sweden,
      that adopt such policies, are not the poorest countries in the world.
      > Best wishes -
      > Gabriel
      > ***************************************
      > But if the 1% include ambulances, food delivery vans, people trying to
      catch planes, police trying to catch law-breakers, is it "equitable" to
      restrict their ability to travel faster ?
      > On Jan 8, 2012, at 3:02 AM, eric britton wrote:
      >> So right Gabriel. So very right. My response:
      >> My best response (for now)
      >> This is, if I may say it, an amazingly simple approach to transport
      policy and practice, in that once you understand and accept the basic
      principle a huge number of other good things follow. And you have only to
      look in one place to see if you have it -- and that is on the streets of
      your city. If the mayor, all public servants, and the top economic 1% of
      your community travel by the same means as the other 99%, you have an
      equitable system. Sometimes life is simple
      >> That's my point of departure in the first day of my pondering this new
      initiative. But be sure, I shall be working on it, and your note of caution
      is extremely appreciated.
      >> All the best/Eric
      >> _______________
      >> EcoPlan International
      > Association loi de 1901
      >> Eric Britton, Managing Director
      >> Un projet de l'Association Ecoplan International (Loi de 1901)
      >> 8/10, rue Jospeh Bara • Paris 75006 France
      >> +331 7550 3788
      > • association@... • Skype newmobility
      > Sustainable Development, Business & Society | World Streets | New
      Mobility Partnerships
      > Siret 304555295 00019 Arrêté du ministre de l’intérieur. 19 août 1975
      >> P
      > Avant d'imprimer, pensez à l'environnement
      > ***************************************
      > On Feb 22, 2012, at 4:22 AM, Eric Bruun wrote:
      >> Gabriel
      >> Would you care to elaborate on this?
      >> Eric
      >> -----Original Message-----
      >> From: Gabriel Roth
      >> Sent: Feb 21, 2012 5:28 PM
      >> To: KyotoWorldCities@yahoogroups.com
      >> Cc: NewMobilityCafe@yahoogroups.com, WorldTransport@yahoogroups.com,
      >> Subject: Re: [KyotoWorldCities] Equitable Transportation
      >> Eric -
      >> Thanks, but please count me out of this one. Most concerns about "Equity"
      relate to the market system, not to transport.
      >> Best wishes -
      >> Gabriel
      >> On Feb 21, 2012, at 3:21 AM, eric britton wrote:
      >>> From: Chris Bradshaw [mailto:c_bradshaw@...]
      >>> This is a big elephant-in-the-room. Is access to transportation
      equitable. I raise this issue as one that the usual green-transportation
      agenda (more efficient cars, intelligent highways, better transit at rush
      hours) ignores. The others that are ignored are: health/obesity;
      health/trauma; health/stress, sprawl, congestion, social/community capital.
      >>> I use the PED-CIVS acronym to identify those who the system ignores in
      favour of AAAs (active, affluent adults): It stands for poor, elderly,
      disabled, children, ill/infirm, visitors, and "simplicists" (this last
      eschews car-ownership). Your reference to the unemployed and under-employed
      suggests that I should add one: making it PED-CIVUS. The IVUs are really
      those temporarily in the PEDCS classes.
      >>> The total in this group at any one time must be close to 50% (and will
      be higher as the aging occurs).
      >>> In transit, the engineer-planners use the term "transit captive" to
      refer to those without the means to driver whenever the transit service
      "displeases" them. Their patronage, as a result, can be taken for granted.
      It is only the AAAs whose patronage they have to compete for. That is a
      distinction that is the opposite of what we need. [See Walker, Jarrett
      (2012), Human Transit, p. 44-45; or my essay:
      >>> So, count me in as part of your group you are organizing to monitor this
      important study.
      >>> Chris Bradshaw

      To search the archives of sustran-discuss visit

      SUSTRAN-DISCUSS is a forum devoted to discussion of people-centred,
      equitable and sustainable transport with a focus on developing countries
      (the 'Global South').
    • Alice Personal
      The distinction between horizontal equity, vertical equity and vertical equity with regard to mobility need and ability is a helpful starting point to make us
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 28, 2012

        The distinction between horizontal equity, vertical equity and vertical equity with regard to mobility need and ability is a helpful starting point to make us think more clearly about what we actually mean when we talk about equity. But, as someone who deals a lot with issues for people whose mobility is reduced by barriers in the transport environment, it gives me certain cause for concern.

        What exactly is 'special transportation need'? I would argue that it is only 'special' because the design of the transport environment hasn't accommodated that need in the first place. Wheelchair users would be better off without any seating on transport vehicles – and surely the provision of that seating is the fulfilment of a 'special transportation need'? Profoundly Deaf people don’t need public announcements – this is a ‘special transportation need’ of hearing people.  Again, a dignitary’s need for private transportation for security or speed purposes is surely a 'special transportation need'.

        What's special depends on who defines what's normal. And here we have some chickens and eggs. The more those who don't fit what's normal aren't seen using the normal, the less their 'special' needs get taken into account.  The notion of ‘special interest groups’ advancing their own agenda through the concept of equity begs a whole host of questions about whose agenda it is anyway.

        For a dignitary to rub shoulders with the rest of us on the 'normal' transportation system is a good start in eradicating the need for special and delivering equity. But the president's barriers are 'softer' – it's less an issue of infrastructure modifications than adjusting operations and attitudes.

        Easy and unfettered use of the transport system – where that includes all forms of mobility – is a pre-requisite for economic inclusion. If we continue to consider some people's transportation needs as 'special', we will perpetuate an economic underclass that has economic implications for the rest of the social system – a rod for our own backs socially and economically speaking.

        Alice Maynard

        Dr Alice Maynard. Future Inclusion


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