Transport and Social Exclusion in London
ANDREW C, University of Brighton, FROST M, Birkbeck College and SULLIVAN K, London Transport, UK
Improving mobility as a means of tackling social exclusion and poverty is becoming an increasingly important goal of the UK Government's policy on sustainability. Earlier this year, the Government stated that the main alms of its Strategy for Sustainable
Improving mobility as a means of tackling social exclusion and poverty is becoming an increasingly important goal of the UK Government's policy on sustainability. Earlier this year, the Government stated that the main alms of its Strategy for Sustainable Development include not only environmental protection, and the prudent use of resources, but also issues of social equity and economic progress i.e. 'social progress which meets the needs of everyone' and 'maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment'.
This wider definition of sustainabiiity is reflected in recent developments in transport policy, and interest in the relationship between social exclusion and mobility has grown accordingly. The 1998 UK White Paper on Transport states that the Government's goal of providing integrated transport includes, amongst other things, 'integration with ............ policies for education, health and wealth creation - so that transport helps to make a fairer more inclusive society'. However, for the UK at least, this is a relatively new direction in transport policy, and little is known about how this integration can be achieved in practice.
To date, research on this issue has tended to fall into one of two approaches which we have termed the 'category approach' and the 'spatial approach'. The category approach focuses on the travel patterns, attitudes and needs of particular social groups, who are perceived to be disadvantaged in relation to the transport system, for example, women, people without paid employment, or young people. This approach has a number of limitations however. Firstly, groups may not homogenous in terms of their material affluence, or activity patterns. Secondly, the reasons why individuals may be disadvantaged are often multi-dimensional whereas this approach often focuses on a single dimension. Thirdly, these studies rarely consider geographical or spatial factors, such as where people live, where the activities that they want to participate in are located, and their need and ability to move between the two.
Where research has been carried out into the spatial dimensions of transport and social exclusion it has tended to be concerned with the accessibility problems of people living in rural areas, or peripheral housing estates, particularly the problems caused by poor public transport access to and from these areas. These studies do little to provide an understanding of the potential role of transport in tackling social exclusion in London, with its unique and complex morphology, socio-economic character, and mix of housing tenure, and its relatively dense public transport network. Furthermore, despite the fact these studies often focus on accessibility, as far as we are aware there have been no attempts to either measure this objectively, or to identify and categorise the factors that may limit accessibility.
This distinction between 'category' and 'spatial' approaches is not simply a theoretical issue. It lies at the heart of how transport resources are used to tackle social exclusion, for example:
* to what extent should resources be allocated to benefit particular social groups, or specific geographical areas ?
* should specialist provision be made for particular sectors of society, or should resources be more evenly spread to make things better for everyone ?
London Transport has an on-going research programme to investigate the travel needs of particular sectors of society, for example, women, mobility impaired people, and young people, and of course, wider market research studies are segmented to understand variations in attitudes and behaviour between different social groups.
However, to date, London Transport has not undertaken any specific research to understand the travel needs of people living in areas with high levels of poverty and social excIusion, and in particular the level of accessibility that is provided by existing public transport services to and within these areas. It was therefore decided to commission a two stage study.
Association for European Transport