Accessibility,  Equity, and the Journey-to-Work

Recent working paper:

Inequality in transport provision is an area of growing concern among transport professionals, as it results in low-income individuals travelling at lower speeds while covering smaller distances. Accessibility, the ease of reaching destinations, may hold the key in correcting these inequalities through providing a means to evaluate land use and transport interventions. This article examines the relationship between accessibility and commuting duration for low-income individuals, compared to the general population, in three major Canadian metropolitan regions, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver using multilevel mixed effects statistical models for car and public transport commuters separately. Accessibility measures are generated for jobs and workers both at the origin (home) and the destination (place of work) to account for the impact of competing labor and firms. Our models show that the impacts of accessibility on commuting duration are present and stronger for low-income individuals than for the general population, and the differences in impact are more visible for public transport commuters. The results suggest that low-income individuals have more to gain (in terms of reduced commute time) from increased accessibility to low-income jobs at the origin and to workers at the destination. Similarly, they also have more to lose from increased accessibility to low-income workers at the origin and to low- income jobs at the destination, which are proxies for increased competition. Policies targeting improvements in accessibility to jobs, especially low-income ones, by car and public transport while managing the presence of competition can serve to bridge the inequality gap that exists in commuting behavior.