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Transport and Poverty
The structure of modern society means that many of our needs can only be met through geographically dispersed services and facilities. Transport systems are essential in enabling us to reach these key places. However, even where there is transport provision, a lack of the right set of resources can act as a barrier to using the network and thus from accessing important services and facilities. This includes not just financial resources but also, for example, a person’s physical and mental capabilities, their private assets (such as holding a drivers licence or owning a car), and the time they have available to undertake a journey. The high cost of transport, whether public transport fares or the costs of owning and running a motor vehicle, may place pressures on household finances, particularly for those with low incomes, forcing compromises between different areas of household expenditure, such as housing, and limiting choices that then have additional impacts on well-being. Lack of suitable transport options can limit access to affordable child care, to supermarkets and to discount retailing, increasing costs in other aspects of an individual’s life. The lack of affordable, accessible and acceptable transport options can restrict access to employment opportunities and education potentially reducing a person’s ability to earn additional income and thus move out of poverty. Lack of access to essential services and facilities such as health care and to social support networks can exacerbate social exclusion in deprived and isolated neighbourhoods. This project reviewed the evidence on the complex relationships between transport and poverty. It aimed to understand the range of policy and practice interventions, within transport and related arenas that can be used to reduce or alleviate poverty and to examine the potential effectiveness of those interventions within different contexts. The way in which transport is organised and regulated contributes to poverty and can act as an enabler or barrier to poverty alleviation was also examined. The project drew on evidence from UK and internationally, covering a variety of transport modes including the car, public transport, cycling and walking. Following a realist approach, the review included both conventional peer-reviewed literature and grey literature.
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