The central component of the Sustainable Development Goals pertains to goal 11.2, which emphasizes sustainable mobility and the need to establish an inclusive, affordable, safe, and environmentally friendly transportation system accessible to all by 2030. Public transportation plays a crucial role and, therefore, is essential for developing a viable and equitable city. Public transportation is recognized as a greener, safer, more equitable, and more affordable mode of transportation that significantly contributes to the city’s sustainability, quality of life, and public health and safety. Accessibility and equity considerations have gained considerable attention in transportation and urban planning in the last few decades. Transportation and land use are not integrated in developing countries. In cities of this region, it is typical to see the majority of low-income families located distant from areas where social and economic opportunities i.e., education and employment. This is seen because the accessibility of public transportation services in regions inhabited by socially vulnerable groups is relatively poor. It is deemed essential to consider the basic rights of everyone during transportation planning, especially public transport planning, as a majority of low-income who are economically not strong enough primarily depend on public transport to reach their daily activities.
Urban areas, often synonymous with downtown areas or Central Business Districts (CBDs), are characterized by high population density, extensive infrastructure, and vibrant economic activity. In contrast, rural areas, sometimes called the periphery of cities, are more accurately defined by their open spaces, lower population density, and a focus on agriculture or natural landscapes. One critical distinction between these two settings lies in their public transport infrastructure. Urban areas boast well-developed systems comprising buses, subways, trams, and commuter trains, ensuring efficient mobility within the city. This comprehensive network significantly enhances accessibility to employment opportunities, as most urban zones offer convenient access to workplaces via public transport. In rural areas, employment options often revolve around agriculture, small-scale businesses, or remote work, and the lack of extensive public transport infrastructure can pose challenges for residents seeking job opportunities in urban centers.
The world’s most developed regions are increasingly reliant on private cars. This increase has been attributed to a lack of investment in public transport, the inability to design for integrated land use and transportation, cycling, and walkability. Good accessibility enables citizens to access public amenities such as schools and hospitals and engage in activities and social interaction. In contrast, poor accessibility prevents individuals from engaging in these activities and creates obstacles that exacerbate adverse socioeconomic effects and inequality. To provide transport equity, some developed countries are expanding their public transport networks to low-income households without access to private vehicles. Enhancing transportation equity can help reduce the social inequality of lower-income and socially disadvantaged groups in relation to the urban transport system and ensure that transportation systems are prioritized.
Various accessibility measures:
(i) Infrastructure approach: It concentrates on speed, trip time, road length, road network density, and overall congestion level as measured by vehicle hours wasted. This analyses the accessibility of locations on a macro scale.
(ii) Activity approach: It considers the transport network’s efficiency and land use. The activity-based accessibility measuring method analyzes the distribution of activities in space and time and relevant impedance (time, cost) between origins and destinations.
(iii) Individual’s personal preferences approach: It focuses on an individual’s characteristics, behaviors, and preferences. This spans from socioeconomic characteristics (such as gender, car ownership, marital status, education, and age) to people’s attitudes and intentions to use. Individual accessibility is influenced by activity locations, distances between important locations, journey duration, activity involvement, and commuting speeds.
(iv) Social exclusion and geographic location approach: This metric concentrates an area access/geographic location when aggregating at the community level. Even though the individualized approach may look fragmented and impractical for the planning process, it assists us.
(v) Utility-based approach: This is based on the benefits received by individuals while accessing spatially dispersed activities, opportunities, and challenges, considering individual characteristics, characteristics of various transport modes, spatial-temporal constraints, speed, daily activity schedules, and time budgets.
(vi) Mixed-measures approach: It is employed when there are multiple target factors, such as travel costs (monetary, time, risk, and comfort), volume (number of individuals, vehicle units, etc.), and location.
Urban areas should promote planning strategies aimed at fulfilling the accessibility requirements of their residents by discouraging long-distance commutes and encouraging sustainable transportation modes like walking, cycling, and public transit. To enhance economic growth social well-being, and align with the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), policymakers and stakeholders must ensure the equitable inclusion and development of rural regions.
The article is based on – Public transport equity
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