Post: What is transport poverty? Is there transport poverty in Finland? Who are the victims of it?

What is transport poverty? Is there transport poverty in Finland? Who are the victims of it?

This is the English summary of a preliminary report on transport poverty in Finland. The research was funded by Ministry of Transport and CommunicationsHelsinki Regional Transport Authority and Finnish Transport Agency. Further research is funded by Kone Foundation.

The aim of this study is to describe transport poverty in Finnish context. As the first study on this topic in Finland and as a preliminary study, the research questions were set as follows: 1) What is transport poverty? Is there transport poverty in Finland and if so, what kind of transport poverty is there? 2) How can transport poverty be analyzed using existing data?, and 3) What is the relationship between transport poverty and other phenomena and issues affecting the transport system? The study is carried out as a literature study. Additionally, possible data sets to depict transport poverty in Finland were recognised.

Transport poverty can be defined as a phenomenon that consists of four concepts: mobility poverty, transport affordability, accessibility poverty and exposure to transport externalities. Transport poverty is also linked to many issues, for example well-being, housing and social exclusion. Groups that are especially exposed to transport poverty are: 1) low-income households, 2) households without a motorised vehicle, 3) persons too young or old to drive a car, 4) persons with physical or cognitive limitations, 5) minority households and 6) immigrants.

It was found that in Finland transport poverty is generated mainly by two mechanisms: 1) personal features such as needs, resources, attitudes, physical well-being and capabilities, and 2) housing location and choices that are linked with e.g. housing costs, transport costs and distance to workplace and services. Transport poverty has a strong linkage with transport services and services near the homes. In larger cities, transport poverty is linked to the availability and service level of public transport whereas in rural areas car dependency is the major concern.

In Finland, there are various financial aids to support mobility of people (e.g. income support) and the needs of special groups are considered (e.g. services of the disabled). As transport poverty is a wide phenomenon, measuring it has to include many different data sets. In this pre-study, the different research questions, indicators and existing data sets were identified with which transport poverty could be studied in more detail in Finland.

Transport poverty is affected by many changes in the operational environment. Ageing population draws special attention to seniors, their access and capabilities as well as the services offered. Environmental regulation can lead to higher mobility costs especially for those who travel long distances and use their own car. Digitalisation can offer new opportunities for accessibility (e.g. digital services and mobility as a service), but the development may also lead to poorer accessibility especially for those who have low readiness for using digital services.

Further research is needed to analyse transport poverty in Finland using data from existing data sets such as the national travelsurvey and survey on citizen satisfaction with the transport system and travel chains. By expert interviews it would be possible to recognize issues related to transport poverty that cannot be identified from the data sets. Since experiencing transport poverty is subjective, a survey could be conducted in order to study the experiences of transport poverty among population.

Liikenneköyhyys Suomessa – näkökulmia liikkumisen sosiaaliseen kestävyyteen, esiselvitys (pdf)
‹Research Report 94 / Tampere University of Technology. Transport Research Centre Verne · ISBN 978-952-15-4095-0›