Re: [sustran] Re: [KyotoWorldCities] Equitable Transportation
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.
Dr Alice Maynard. Future Inclusion