Fairness in Transport Policy: A New Approach to Applying Distributive Justice Theories
Inequalities based on income, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, race, class, ethnicity, religion and opportunity continue to persist across the world, within and among countries. Inequality threatens long-term social and economic development, harms poverty reduction and destroys people’s sense of fulfilment and self-worth. This, in turn, can breed crime, disease and environmental degradation. (p. 1)
2. Context: Transport, Wellbeing and Equity
3. Transport and Distributive Justice Theories
4. Transport and the Capabilities Approach
4.1. The Fundamentals of the Capabilities Approach
4.2. Transport Applications of the Capabilities Approach
5. Alternative Application of the Capabilities Approach to Transport
5.1. Transport Policy as a Social Conversion Factor
5.2. A Broader Normative Framework for Equitable Transport Policy
- The role of public policy is to act as a positive Conversion Factor that enhances capabilities and counteracts negative Conversion Factors (influences), while protecting the basic rights and freedoms.
- The effects of policies and the actions of people should not violate basic rights and freedoms of others including those of future generations.
- Transport policy should promote equality of opportunity; hence policy should focus on capabilities and not solely on outcomes.
- Fair policies are those that improve capabilities at least for the most disadvantaged in society. Both minimum and maximum thresholds of capabilities can be set to achieve this.
- Previous application of the Capabilities Approach to transport policy:
- Defined one transport-specific capability (access) to be the focus of policy
- Incorporated ideas from Rawls’ Theory of Justice to create a set of principles for transport justice:
- Basic rights and liberties should not be violated to improve access for others;
- A minimum level of access should be defined and guaranteed. Higher levels of access may need to be constrained if further increases will reduce access for others;
- Did not consider:
- Agency or empowerment
- Transport policy’s role in enhancing or limiting other capabilities (e.g. health)
- Transport policy’s interactions with other policy areas (other than land-use), such as environmental or health policy
- A new approach, using Social Conversion Factors to extend the Capabilities Approach to transport policy:
- Enables a broader perspective of the influences of transport policy on many capabilities besides access
- Allows communities to define their own list of capabilities, which may or may not include a transport-specific capability such as access
- Considers agency and emphasises the importance of fair process and just decision making
- Provides stronger normative guidance – public policy should act positively and counteract negative influences on capabilities
- Encourages the combination of transport policy with other policy areas to fit with holistic approaches to fairness and wellbeing
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|Living Standards Framework Wellbeing Domain||Questions for Transport Policy when Focusing on Access||Questions for Transport Policy when Viewed as a Social Conversion Factor||Examples when Viewed as a Social Conversion Factor|
|Health||Does this policy provide fair access to health services and health promoting activities?|
Does one group’s access have unfair impact on other people’s health?
|Does this transport policy fairly contribute to the creation of health, directly and indirectly?|
Does the transport policy maintain the ability of future generations to achieve good health?
|An electric and a diesel bus provide the same access; however they have very different effects on air pollution & health.|
Building a new traffic lane may increase overall access over a cycle lane (at least in the short term), however a cycle lane may provide more health benefit in terms of physical activity and road safety improvements, and better options for those who have difficulty affording a motor vehicle, or who cannot drive.
|Environment||Does this policy provide fair access to the natural environment (e.g. greenspace or waterway)?|
Does people’s access degrade or improve the environment?
|Does this transport policy contribute to sustaining or degrading the environment, its ability to provide for people, and people’s relationship to the environment, particularly for those worse off and future generations?||A new motorway may increase access to a regional park; however, it may also increase car use and carbon emissions, which contribute to climate change and global environmental damage. Climate change may ultimately result in the loss or degradation of the regional park ecosystem. Looking at it from this perspective one may choose to increase access to the park through public transport systems or even not at all, it may be decided to invest in improving the quality of local green and blue spaces (i.e. the solution may not even be a transport one)|
|Housing||Does the transport system fairly provide good connections between housing and basic goods and services?||How does a transport policy interact with land use planning to affect the fair location of housing and land availability, and resulting house prices?||A combined transport and land use policy that encourages sprawl, including through the provision of road networks, separating housing from employment and service centres, builds in car dependence and congestion, makes housing with close access to employment and services more attractive and costly, while also reducing the viability of public transport|
|Civic engagement & governance||Does this provide fair access to opportunities to engage with democracy (e.g. access to voting booths, Council meetings, iwi/ tribal decision-making etc.)?||Is the transport decision making process open and democratic, in a way that encourages participation and engagement?||The framing of transport decision-making in technocratic terms based on complex transport and economic modelling may contribute to scepticism about urban governance and disengagement of many who are concerned most about non-quantifiable urban wellbeing outcomes, rather than indices of transport and economic activity. It also tends to ensure power is held with technocrats rather than providing mechanisms for well-informed public participation by a variety of groups.|
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Randal, E.; Shaw, C.; Woodward, A.; Howden-Chapman, P.; Macmillan, A.; Hosking, J.; Chapman, R.; Waa, A.M.; Keall, M. Fairness in Transport Policy: A New Approach to Applying Distributive Justice Theories. Sustainability 2020, 12, 10102. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122310102
Randal E, Shaw C, Woodward A, Howden-Chapman P, Macmillan A, Hosking J, Chapman R, Waa AM, Keall M. Fairness in Transport Policy: A New Approach to Applying Distributive Justice Theories. Sustainability. 2020; 12(23):10102. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122310102Chicago/Turabian Style
Randal, Edward, Caroline Shaw, Alistair Woodward, Philippa Howden-Chapman, Alex Macmillan, Jamie Hosking, Ralph Chapman, Andrew M. Waa, and Michael Keall. 2020. "Fairness in Transport Policy: A New Approach to Applying Distributive Justice Theories" Sustainability 12, no. 23: 10102. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122310102