Smart Transport

New transport technologies must promote equity and inclusion, says report

Woman with a shared bike

A new report from Urban Transport Group and Arup urges steps to be taken to ensure new transport technologies do not marginalise groups or reinforce existing inequalities.

The report - Equitable Future Mobility: Ensuring a just transition to net zero transport –considers measures to improve the availability, accessibility, affordability and acceptability of mobility services, collectively known as the Four As.

The report highlights both UK and international case studies of where transport authorities and operators are striving to meet the Four As.

These include: 

  • mobile apps which enable disabled train passengers to book assistance on their journeys via their phones;
  • the placement of new mobility services such as e-scooter docks in areas underserved by existing transport;
  • responsive transport services allowing for safer travel for women at night; and
  • drivers being paid ‘mobility credits’ to use on car-sharing, public transport and electric vehicle hire schemes as an incentive to scrap their personal vehicles.

The new report also provides a framework for better decision making in the delivery of future mobility, aimed at helping transport authorities, operators and stakeholders to consider aspects of social inclusion whilst also addressing wider environmental and economic policy goals.

Laura Shoaf, chair of the Urban Transport Group and chief executive at West Midlands Combined Authority, said: “From e-scooters to payment apps, new technologies and business models are revolutionising the way we travel.

"But we need to ensure that the benefits that flow from new technologies are harnessed in a way that meets the diverse nature of the people and places we serve - for example, not excluding those without smart phones or pricing out those on low incomes from certain transport options.

“This report is intended to get the transport sector thinking about how we go beyond a focus on the default male commuter when we are thinking about the role and benefits of new technologies to consider multiple aspects of people’s identity (such as gender, race, income and geography) which will ultimately benefit all users.”

Natalie Gravett, transport planner/modeller at Arup, said everyone should have the ability to choose low-carbon modes and access the full range of opportunities, but there are still many groups marginalised by the UK's transport systems.

She added: "Our report sets out recommendations for embedding fairness in decision making throughout the design and delivery of transport services.”

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