Equality and Accessibility

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A key quality of a sustainable transport network is that it ensures equality and access for all members of society.

Public transport is often the only means of transport available to the more vulnerable members of society, making ease of access and equal opportunity to use these modes crucial for a just society.

Below are a variety of demographics to consider specifically during transport planning and implementation, and a variety of measures in accomodating them.

1. Gender equality

Women comprise over 50 percent of the Australian population, yet suffer from a disproportionate number of inhibitions in using public transport that men generally do not have to consider.

The two most notable factors are:

  1. Feeling unsafe travelling alone on trains, taxis and other transport modes, especially at night.
  2. Long walking distances to nearest stop/station during pregnancy or childcare

To assist transport planners to address these concerns, a number of research reports and tool kits have been developed in Australia and internationally:

  • The Plan It Safe kit, developed by the Lawlink Safer Women Project, provides a comprehensive overview of a range of options and strategies to promote safer public places for women in your local area.
  • The World Bank's Gender and Transport Resource Guide provides easy access to useful materials on Gender and Transport to sustain efforts to mainstream gender in the transport sector and ultimately enhance the impact of sector investments.
  • How to Ease Women’s Fear of Transportation Environments examines the issue of women’s safety on transit through a comprehensive literature review, stakeholder interviews, survey of transit operators, and presentation of case studies and best practices.
  • Women and Community Safety was developed in response to requests from women’s groups and local governments in Canada to working together to plan for safer small, rural and/or isolated communities.
  • Developed by Oxfam, the A place for everyone? Gender equality and urban planning factsheet provides a concise set of principals and processes to ensure the specific needs of women are addressed in urban planning.

2. Mobility impaired access

'Mobility impaired' is an inclusive term for everyone who has difficulty in moving around. It can include;

  • the elderly
  • parents with prams or small children
  • travellers and business people with luggage
  • shoppers with trolleys
  • those with a disability 
  • those with an injury

By catering for the mobility impaired at all stages of the transport planning process, local governments ensure social justice, greater community, lowered care costs and greater chance of rehabilitation. This also ensure local government compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act (1991).

Sally Semmens of the Victoria Department of Transport Social Transit Unit, presented a list of practical ways local government can consult, design and implement transport networks with equal access in mind. Her presentation, and other presentations onthe topic, can be found on the 'Social Inclusion Principles for Transport Engineers' seminar presentations page of Thinking Transport.