Transport and Social Exclusion: a G7 Comparative Study
K Lucas, TSG, University of Westminster, UK
The paper reports on the Phase I scoping study to provide a synthesis of the position of G7 member states on transport and social exclusion and to identify a suitable assessment framework for quantitative and qualitative comparisons in the Phase II analysis. The main objectives of the research are to: (i) Compare the extent and diversity of form of social exclusion across the seven countries and different national approaches to the problem; (ii) Examine the ways in which the transport policies of the seven countries recognise and alleviate or accentuate the problem; (iii) Identify innovative and transferable transport and non-transport policy driven initiatives that can contribute to more socially inclusive transport systems.
The work builds on previous UK research by the author and her involvement as policy advisor to the UK Government?s Social Exclusion Unit in their recent study of the links between transport and social exclusion in the UK context.
The persistence of poverty and disadvantage amongst some social groups in even the most affluent and advanced industrial societies and its ?knock-on? effects, such as unemployment, poor educational achievement, high crime rates, social segregation and low voter turn-out is a major focus of the policy agenda in these countries. On both sides of the Atlantic, poor transport is increasingly being recognised as a barrier to employment and other key activities and, thus, an important contributing and reinforcing factor in reduced social participation and social exclusion.
Dating as far back as the early 1970s, numerous researchers have been drawing attention to social inequities arising from transport delivery in the UK, (e.g. Hillman 1976; Goodwin, 1990; Greico, 1995). Others have examined the problems and concerns of different disadvantaged groups (e.g. Hamilton et al, 1991 and Root et al, 2000 - on women; Cahill et al, 1996 ? on children; Noble, 2000 ? on older people) or of people living in disadvantaged communities (e.g. Stewart, 1999 ? women and children living in Deptford, London; Davis and Ridge, 1997 ? children living in rural communities).
Most of these earlier studies have tended towards identification of the transport problems of different disadvantaged groups and areas. There have been few attempts to locate the outcomes of such deficits in terms of the wider social policy agenda. In addition, the research to date has been predominantly qualitative in its methodology and so is unable to identify the extent and severity of the problem for the UK as a whole, or to compare the UK position with that of other industrialised nations.
More recently, the UK Government has overtly recognised the importance of transport in relation to the social exclusion of low income and disadvantaged groups in the UK in a series of studies funded by both the Department of Transport and its Social Exclusion Unit (SEU, 2002). Similarly, European policies are beginning to recognise the importance of considering social exclusion issues in transport decision-making. Several French studies are also beginning to make the links between levels of transport provision the quality of the public transport system with the wider welfare agenda (Cities on the Move Conference, 2002). Meanwhile in the United States, the transport accessibility of low-income and disadvantaged groups falls under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act 1964 as an issue of environmental justice. A subsequent Executive Order of this Act (EO 12898 stated that all federal agencies must identify and address ?the disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programmes, policies and activities on minority and low-income populations. Since 2000, this includes those arising from transport investment projects, which are now liable to a social or community impact appraisal. Most of the evidence from this longer history of a legal requirement to assess the impact of different transport decisions on low-income and minority groups has not been transferred to Europe or considered in a European context.
The research goes some way to aiding this transfer of knowledge. The contribution of the study to policy and practice In large part the problem of poor transport and accessibility and its knock-on effects for social exclusion have arisen because there has been no robust, transparent and accountable framework for assessing whether people are able to safely and affordably access the places they need to go. National surveys collecting data on transport (mainly National Travel Survey), tend to look at people?s travel behaviour but do not explain why that behaviour occurs or the outcome of that behaviour on people?s wider quality of life.
At the level of local delivery, Public Transport Executives and other transport authorities produce transport plans for their areas, but in Europe, are not directly required to undertake analyses to assess whether people, especially those without cars, can access
h4. Key services.
As a discipline, transport has tended to be more concerned with mobility (how extensive and fast the transport network is) rather than accessibility (how well it connects with activity patterns). The distribution of costs and benefits arising from the transport system tend not to be analysed at either the local or national level.
The flip-side to this problem is that the key local agencies responsible for providing the facilities and services that people need to access do not tend to consider whether these are being provided in places that people can reach without cars. Providers of services do not consider transport access to these services to be their concern. Most local transport authorities in Europe receive Government grants to subsidise public transport services where these are considered ?socially necessary?, but the formulas used to assess this varies from place to place and country to country and is far from comprehensive in its application. Little attention has been paid to the transfer of knowledge and experience from one local or national context to another.
Furthermore, where initiatives have been introduced to tackle some of these shortfalls in transport provision, e.g. Dial-a Ride services, they often only serve certain sectors of the population and also do not provide comprehensive coverage. Some local authorities have been successful in securing additional funds to improve services for travel poor communities, but again this is uneven between areas and regions and usually based on successful competition rather than carefully assessed need. The monitoring or analysis that has taken place on these initiatives does little to assess the contribution of such measures to social inclusion outcomes.
The paper aims to synthesis the position of the seven member states in these two respects in order to assess whether there are lessons which can be transferred for future policy and practice both at the national and EU level of transport decision-making.
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