Equitable transport policy

In evaluations transport policies are assessed on its effectiveness and efficiency. The equitableness of policies is usually not considered. At the same time, we observe an increasing interest in how the effects of transport policies are distributed across society. As a result, there is a need for knowledge about how equity can be given a central place in transport policies, in addition to effectiveness and efficiency. This research note shows which equity notions can be used to assess the equitableness of intended and unintended effects of transport policies. 

Other sectors

Healthcare and education are very important for a person's well-being. In healthcare and education, equity has therefore played a central role in policy for a longer period of time. Everyone should have access to a certain minimum level of education and healthcare. Some argue that this also applies to transport, for example because (physical) access to healthcare and education depends on the availability of adequate transport facilities. And also the accessibility of other essential destinations such as work or shopping centers lends itself for an equitable distribution. But what is equitable?

Main equity notions

We examined three main equity notions: utilitarianism, egalitarianism, and sufficientrianism. Utilitarianism aims to provide the greatest good for the greatest number of people. An equitable distribution of policy effects is that which maximizes aggregated welfare. Egalitarianism strives to reduce inequalities of opportunities. According to egalitarianism, a transport policy is fair if it distributes positive and negative effects in a manner that reduces differences (in accessibility, exposure to emissions, etc.) between groups. Sufficentarianism strives for a basic standard for everyone. For example, everyone has a certain maximum travel time to the nearest hospital. How the equitableness of the effects of mobility policy is assessed is therefore a choice, and depends on the equity notion you want to apply.


In order to know whether equity goals in the field of transport are being achieved, it is necessary to measure the effect of a policy measure on equity. For this reason we provide examples of indicators that match with the different equity notions. An example of an indicator for accessibility in case of egalitarianism is the variance of the number of activities (work, hospitals, shops, etc.) that can be accessed within an acceptable travel time of groups of people or spatial units.