Forms of Mobility Poverty As Indicators of Social Equity

Forms of Mobility Poverty As Indicators of Social Equity


Andras Ekes, Metropolitan Research Institute


Poverty in transport is a complex phenomenon, related to various issues like pricing, accessibility or coverage in time or in area and can be generated by a mixture of social, economic, network, service or operation factors.


Mobility poverty is an often barely known or underestimated phenomenon for most stakeholders. Mobility poverty is more than a sector specific engineering problem: it is a complex issue generating impacts all over the mobility field and beyond, including economic productivity or housing.

Mobility poverty exists in many regions and cities of Europe.

Poverty in mobility is a recent notion bringing together different factors concerning the different levels of accessibility to the public transport system. The appearance of physical and other availability restrictions characterise the environment of mobility poverty. The novelty of the research is to bring together all transport and non-transport factors that can lead to mobility poverty or to its consequences. Traditionally social, housing or economic studies have dealt with mobility aspects related to the original scope of the research. The point of view is to collect all phenomena appearing around the mobility and being able to generate the different forms of poverty. In terms of research approach this up-side-down method will be better to focus on all poverty aspects to be slightly or deeply affected by mobility.

The forms of the mobility poverty are different and appear differently in every region, suburb or city. The forms can be classified in primary and secondary ones. Primary ones are direct phenomena or impacts having strong connection with the presence or lack of mobility services, infrastructures. Secondary ones are additional elements resulting from the impacts of the primary forms of mobility poverty.

The primary forms can be classified in five different groups:

Poor time coverage: The farther away a mobility area is from cities and the more we consider the off-peak hours or weekend time, services become generally less regulated, connections are ad hoc or partial.

Territorial coverage gap: cities and rural areas often have the problem of the lack of network presence. In cities generally concerns those areas where density is low, or geographical barriers make mobility unfeasible.

Affordability (financial accessibility) gap: If fare communities, transport associations are developed, affordability conditions may be met. Higher distances in rural areas mean more expensive mobility costs, and increasing prices mean the decreasing chance of affordability to services.

Accessibility gap: Direct exclusion from mobility or more difficult access to public transport can appear when complex accessibility conditions arent fulfilled due to non-barrier-free vehicles, platforms, sidewalks or other surfaces of transport systems.

Lack of information: information and info-communication are very important channels of the mobility process.

When information is not provided, not accessible, not passenger friendly or false or else physically missing, can provoke ad hoc or permanent inconvenience, exclusion.

Secondary appearance:

Coverage in time, network presence and pricing of the mobility affect directly and indirectly the working and housing conditions as secondary impact.

The novelty is to highlight the hidden presence and forms of mobility poverty and to draw the attention of the involved stakeholders how social, economic, ecology and labour market aspects cant be separated from mobility, and how the mobility environment impacts on the living conditions. The goal is to share this complex responsibility and to find the adequate answers of the treatment.


Association for European Transport