Victoria Transportation Institute

Transportation Equity

Evaluating Transportation Equity (PDF Format)

This paper explores the concept of transportation equity. It defines transportation equity, including horizontal equity, vertical equity with respect to income, and vertical equity with respect to need/ability. It summarizes existing literature on this subject and discusses weaknesses with current transport planning equity analysis. It describes ways to better incorporate equity into transportation decision-making. Case studies examine the equity impacts of increasing automobile user charges, transit subsidies and neighborhood traffic management (traffic calming).


Social Inclusion As A Transport Planning Issue in Canada (PDF Format)

Social exclusion refers to constraints that prevent people from participating adequately in society, including education, employment, public services and activities. Inadequate transport sometimes contributes to social exclusion, particularly for people who live in an automobile dependent community and are physically disabled, low income or unable to own and drive a personal automobile. This paper discusses the concept of social exclusion as it relates to transport, how it is currently incorporated in Canadian transport planning, and the research needed to better address social exclusion. It was one of several papers that examine transport social exclusion issues in individual countries, presented at the “Transport and Social Exclusion G7 Comparison Seminar” held in London, April, 2003.


Socioeconomics of Urban Travel: Evidence from the 2001 NHTS (PDF Format)

By John Pucher and John Renne

This article analyzes the 2001 National Household Travel Survey and compares its results with previous personal transportation surveys to identify trends and differences in travel behavior among various socioeconomic groups in the U.S. during the last four decades. This analysis investigates variations in vehicle ownership, mobility trends, travel mode (driving, walking, cycling and public transit), trip purpose and travel schedule. The authors discuss the implications of this analysis for public policies, particularly efforts to address equity objectives. Posted with author’s permission.


Socially Optimal Transport Prices and Markets; Principles, Strategies and Impacts (PDF Format)

This paper examines how travel patterns are influenced by consumer prices, the magnitude of distortions in current markets, and how more optimal pricing could encourage more efficient behavior, reduce transportation problems, and increase equity. It summarizes research on the full costs of transportation, and uses that information to identify mispricing and other market failures. It discusses specific, feasible strategies for creating a more economically efficient and equitable motor vehicle price structure.


Road Relief; Tax and Pricing Shifts for A Fairer, Cleaner, and Less Congested Transportation System in Washington State (Link)

By Todd Litman, Charles Komanoff, and Douglas Howell

This report examines ways to improve the transportation system by implementing revenue-neutral tax and pricing shifts that encourage more efficient and equitable travel behavior. It shows how these changes can improve the economy, reduce congestion, air pollution, traffic deaths, and make transportation more affordable for households and governments. Produced in 1998 for the Energy Outreach Center in Olympia, Washington, with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It is now available at


Transportation Market Distortions – A Survey (PDF Format)

An efficient market provides consumers with competitive choices of goods and services, and is economically neutral (public policies do not favor one option over others). Current transportation markets do not satisfy these criteria. This report identifies several distortions that result in excessive automobile use, less efficient land use, and automobile dependency. There is little rational justification for these distortions. They tend to reflect outdated technologies and social objectives. More than half of current automobile use appears to result from these distortions. Given less biased transportation markets, consumers are expected to significantly reduce their automobile travel and be better off overall as a result.


Using Road Pricing Revenue; Economic Efficiency and Equity Considerations (PDF Format)

This paper examines how economic efficiency, equity, external costs, and political feasibility can help determine the distribution of road pricing revenue. Economic efficiency only requires that revenue be used to benefit society and that it not be refunded to users in proportion to how much they paid. There is no efficiency requirement to dedicate revenue to transportation programs. Horizontal equity implies that revenues should be returned to vehicle users as a class, but only after external costs are compensated. Vertical equity requires that revenues benefit low-income drivers as a class at least as much as the costs they bear, and that disadvantaged residents (including non-drivers) benefit overall. This paper was originally published in Transportation Research Record 1558, 1996, pp. 24-28.


Parking Requirement Impacts On Housing Affordability (PDF Format)

Zoning laws require residents to pay for a generous amount of parking, whether they need it or not. This policy raises housing costs, reduces the maximum potential density of development, and reduces developers' incentive to build affordable housing. It is unfair to small and lower income households who tend to own fewer than average vehicles, and often forces poor families to subsidize the automobile parking of their wealthier neighbors.


Sustainable Transportation Indicators

This short article describes sustainable transportation indicators based on the concept of "access." It points out that conventional transportation indicators which measure traffic congestion or vehicle volumes tend to justify continued roadway capacity improvements, rather than supporting strategies that increase total transportation efficiency. The article lists a number of specific indicators that can be used to evaluate transportation trends in a community.


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You are welcome to quote and copy from these documents, provided you credit the authors. Most documents are posted in HTML or PDF format. Contact VTPI at to obtain a document in other formats such as Word or RTF, for example, to more easily copy a table or graph. Just let us know how you plan to use it – we are usually glad to accommodate such requests.

Choose from the following:

VTPI: Our Approach to Problem Solving

Online TDM Encyclopedia

Transportation Cost & Benefit Analysis Guidebook

Evaluating Impacts and Problems

Solutions: Innovative Strategies to Address Transport Problems

Optimal Pricing

Automobile Dependency and Transportation Diversity

Sustainable Transportation

Land Use and Parking Management

Pedestrian and Bicycle Issues

Public Transit

Transportation Equity

Recommendations and Reviews of Other Publications


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Victoria Transport Policy Institute

Efficiency - Equity - Clarity

Website: Email:
1250 Rudlin Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 3R7, Canada
Phone & Fax 250-360-1560
Todd Litman, Director
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