Accessible Transport: The economics

Aerial view of a railway line, main roads and suburban streetsInaccessible transport can be a major barrier to participation in social and civic life, and this has a knock-on effect for the economy. Transport is not usually something we do for its own sake. We use transport in one form or another to achieve something else, such as shopping, going to work or school, or for social activities. It is the glue that holds together the many activities people undertake in their daily lives. But not all transport systems and facilities are accessible to everyone – and it is not just about users of mobility devices. 

A discussion paper from New Zealand recognises that some disabilities are invisible, “… given that arguably everyone is a beneficiary of universal design some of the time; that many factors influencing participation are invisible, such as mental illness or hearing difficulty, for example; if an observational measurement method is going to be used, then it must necessarily involve a proxy measure for ‘beneficiary of universal design’.”

This is an encouraging approach because many studies measure ability and disability of individuals at one point in time, and not across the lifespan. The paper includes a road crossing case study from Hamilton in New Zealand. It concludes with the need for mutual understanding between those who plan and build transport and those that use it. The discussion paper on estimating the costs and benefits of participation was prepared by the Roundtable on Economics of Accessible Transport, part of the OECD International Transport Forum.

International transport forum logoThe OECD website has an iLibrary of discussion papers for this Forum. Filtering for “accessibility” brings up several papers, many of them recent.