We are inviting comments and background information on this our central concept behind this project, i.e., what is this thing we call transportation equity all about? We are looking for a variety of views and perspectives on our topic and not some kind of warm and glass-eyed unanimity. If we cannot handle contradictions and fuzziness, then we are not about to make headway on a challenge of this level of complexity. The following valuable contribution and bibliography comes in from Todd Litman, executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute in Victoria Canada.
Equity refers to the fairness with which impacts (benefits and costs) are distributed. Transportation planning decisions often have significant equity impacts. Transport equity analysis can be difficult because there are several types of equity, many potential impacts to consider, various ways to measure impacts, and may possible ways to categorize people. This report provides practical guidance for evaluating transportation equity. It defines various types of equity and equity impacts, and describes practical ways to incorporate equity evaluation and objectives in transport planning.
Introduction: Evaluating transportation equity
It is true that transportation equity can be evaluated in various ways and that special interest groups often use equity concerns to advance their own agenda, but it tends to be an important concern in transport policy and
planning decision-making, and there is a good body of literature on transport equity analysis.
There are three major categories of transport equity:
1. Horizontal Equity (also called fairness) is concerned with whether each individual or group is treated equally, assuming that their needs and abilities are comparable. It suggests that people with comparable incomes and needs should receive an equal share of public resources and benefits, and bear an equal burden of public costs. It implies that costs should be borne by users unless a subsidy is specifically justified (i.e., the “user pays principle”).
2. Vertical Equity. With Regard to Income considers the allocation of costs between different income classes, assuming that public policies should favor people who are economically disadvantaged. Policies that provide a proportionally greater benefit to lower-income groups are called progressive, while those that make lower-income people relatively worse off are called regressive.
3. Vertical Equity With Regard to Mobility Need and Ability considers whether a transportation system provides adequate service to people who have special transportation needs (i.e., they are transportation disadvantaged). It justifies facility design features and special mobility services that provide access to people with disabilities. It suggests that public
subsidies should be used to provide Basic Access to transportation disadvantaged people.
Equity analysis is complicated by the fact that there are many types of impacts to consider and people can be grouped in various ways. A particular policy may seem equitable and justified when evaluated one way but not in another. It is therefore important that decision-makers understand these different perspectives and measurement units. I agree with Gabe that road
pricing is often portrayed as regressive and therefore inequitable, although it is generally more equitable than other road funding options, particularly if there are good alternatives to driving. This is why most experts argue that a portion of road pricing revenues should be used to improve transport options.
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References and Information Resources
The following has been extracted from the report to provide easy one click access to this key bibliography .
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About the author:
Todd Litman is executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transport problems. His work helps to expand the range of impacts and options considered in transportation decision-making, improve evaluation techniques, and make specialized technical concepts accessible to a larger audience. He can be reached at: 1250 Rudlin Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 3R7, Canada. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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About the editor:
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France
Bio: Trained as a development economist, Eric Britton is MD of EcoPlan International, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government, business and civil society on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change and sustainable development. His forthcoming book, “Toward a General Theory of Transport in Cities”, is being presented, discussed and critiqued in a series of international conferences, master classes, workshops and media events over 2015. (More at http://wp.me/PsKUY-2p7)