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New research on Transport Poverty and Accessibility

Hello all,

I recently came across an article from the University of Toronto stating that an estimated one million urban Canadians suffer from 'transport poverty'. The research from Jeff Allen and Steven Farber (U of T) found that a substantial number of low-income families in Canada are disadvantaged because existing public transit services and infrastructure does not provide them with adequate access to important destinations, including access to employment opportunities and political processes. These vulnerable residents are located in (1) "very dense, low-income tower neighbourhoods located off the main axes of transit supply" or (2) "low-density suburban urban forms" (Allen & Farber, 2019, p.215).

The authors discuss the idea of 'transport justice' and considering 'transport poverty' when making decisions about where to build new transport infrastructure or planning new transit routes. They also discuss planning strategies as potential solutions to this issue. For individuals working in transportation or public policy - is transport justice/equity a common consideration in transportation planning/policy in your cities? It would be great to hear your experiences, or your thoughts on this new research!

Link to U of T article

Link to research publication (Sizing up transport poverty: A national scale accounting of low-income households suffering from inaccessibility in Canada, and what to do about it)

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!


This is great - thanks for posting! I have to delve deeper into the links you provided but I am wondering if it discusses (or maybe you are aware yourself) developing indicators to measure/indicate transportation poverty?

Hi Cora,

Great question! Re-reading the paper, it looks like the authors used multiple measures of 'competitive access to employment' to calculate transport poverty. The three measures used in the paper were (1) access to employment by transit (2) measure of access to employment by driving  (3) access to the labour force from work location (i.e. the number of workers in the catgcment area of a place of employment). To assist in the calculation of the measures, the authors also looked at household demographic and employment data from the 2016 census, the number of jobs available in the location, and the travel times by driving and transit during the morning commute period. 

Using the data, accessibility was calculated for access to all jobs in the included Canadian cities/regions, including access to jobs for people of different income levels. There is actually a really great interactive map that was created from this data that you can view: Another method used to estimate the extent of transit poverty was examining the number of low-income populations in areas of low transit accessibility for jobs. They also looked at recent immigration status and the number of individuals who are unemployed (two measures of SES) in areas of low transit accessibility.

When I was reading through the methods/indicators it was slightly daunting due to the complexity. However, this is the first accounting of transit poverty done at a national level so definitely an interesting read!



Thanks Salimah for your analysis summary of it. Very daunting indeed but would be a meaningful measure if successful!


This is an interesting thread. The City of Winnipeg is embarking on the development of a Winnipeg Transit Master Plan. We plan to contribute to the discussion by bringing forward transportation equity considerations and we hope that it will influence the master plan. It is very complex!! If others have done this type of work I would be interested to hear about your approach.

I thought this article might be of interest to people as well. What I like about these indicators is that the authors explore access to low-skill jobs, which further describes employment access for disadvantaged populations.


This is great Sarah - thanks for posting!


For your HBE work in WRHA, do you have a set of indicators that you have identified for monitoring and surveillance? We are looking to develop in regards to transportation networks, neighbourhood design, food systems and housing. This would be for our (health) use as well for as for the City of Saskatoon to use for their Active Transportation and Growth Plans.