Historically, transport planning tended to overlook issues of transport justice. Instead, the dominant distributive principle was that of demand, often disregarding equity as a guiding principle. This resulted in the dominance of ‘travel as freedom’ narratives and (public infrastructure) investments into private motorised transport as the most important mode of transport. The prevalence of ‘cost-benefit-analyses’ (CBA) further reproduces inequalities by monetising time savings, resulting in transport investments that disproportionately benefitted the rich.
In response, contemporary research on transport justice typically refers to reducing disparities in transport accessibility. This involves addressing discrimination and the unequal distribution of transport resources that stems from factors such as income, physical capabilities, gender roles, racial identity, and geographical location.
A second dimension that is often overlooked in current transport justice frameworks is negative consequences, or the burdens of transport. This refers to negative externalities which are caused by transport, such as (noise-) pollution or CO2 emissions. Typically, the people that benefit the least from transport investments experience the greatest burden. For instance, poor people can only afford to live close to pollution-emitting highways due to affordability constraints but cannot afford to travel on them frequently.
Climate change adds another layer to transport justice considerations. Since the impacts of present-day CO2 emissions disproportionately affect people in poorer countries and future generations, there is a global and intergenerational justice dimension related to the negative externalities of today’s transportation activities.
These different dimensions may seem contradictory. An example of this dilemma is carbon taxes. While such taxes make carbon-intensive modes of transportation more expensive, thereby alleviating transport-related burdens, they also render travel less accessible for economically vulnerable individuals. The two dimensions also spark different conceptual solutions. Equity concerns lead to minimum mobility standards, or ‘floors’, while negative externalities of carbon emissions lead to ‘ceilings’, as in the form of an individual mobility budget.
MyFairShare contributes to transport justice by making such considerations transparent and solves the dilemma by prioritising accessibility of everyday activities over accessibility of transport. The introduction of an individual mobility budget reduces transport burdens, primarily by lowering transport-related CO2 emissions through emission caps (ceilings). This therefore also contributes to global and intergenerational justice. At the same time, minimum mobility standards (floors) ensure equitable access for all individuals, enabling them to guarantee access to important basic functions of everyday life, particularly those people disadvantaged by their residential location, age, or personal abilities. By investing in redistributing locally accessible everyday activities and reducing dependencies from motorised transport, true justice can eventually be achieved for all.
- Banister, David. 2018. Inequality in Transport. Marcham, Oxfordshire: Alexandrine Press.
- Martens, Karel. 2016. Transport Justice: Designing Fair Transportation Systems. Routledge.
- Millonig, Alexandra, Christian Rudloff, Gerald Richter, Florian Lorenz, and Stefanie Peer. 2022. “Fair Mobility Budgets: A Concept for Achieving Climate Neutrality and Transport Equity.” Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment 103 (February): 103165.
- Rode, Philipp. 2022. “Enabling Sufficiency: Towards an Actionable Concept of Fairness in Mobility and Accessibility.” MyFairShare Working Paper