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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Basing Transport Planning on Principles of Social Justice

  • Author(s): Martens, Karel
  • et al.

Transport modeling and cost-benefit analysis are two key tools used in trans- port planning. Both tools have been adapted substantially to cope with the challenges posed by the goal of sustainable development. However, the changes have primarily focused on the negative environmental impacts of the transport sector. Hardly any attention has been paid to another key dimension of sustain- able development: social justice. This paper critically analyzes the two tools from this perspective. It concludes that transport modeling is implicitly based on the distributive principle of demand. Given the importance of mobility in current society, it is suggested to replace current demand-based approaches by transport modeling that is based on the principle of need. Likewise, cost- benefit analysis has a built-in distributive mechanism that structurally favors transport improvements for highly mobile groups. This problem could be solved by replacing travel time savings by so-called accessibility gains as the key benefit taken into account in cost-benefit analysis. If the suggested changes were realized, both transport modeling and cost-benefit analysis could become key tools for promoting sustainable transport.

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