Impacts of the economic crisis on household transport expenditure and public transport policy: Evidence from the Spanish case

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - urban, ridership - behaviour, ridership - demand, planning - surveys, planning - travel demand management, policy - sustainable, policy - fares, economics - fare revenue


Economic crisis, Household transport expenditure, Household inequalities, Urban public transport provision, Public transport policy measures, Spain


The objective of this paper is to assess the impacts of the economic crisis in Spain on the transport expenditure of households from 2006 to 2014 and how transport authorities reacted to cope with the decreasing public resources and transport demand. The approach is based on quantitative and qualitative sources of information: the Spanish Household Budget Survey and in-depth interviews with public transport policy makers from six metropolitan areas.

Transport is one of the household expenditure items that is the most affected by the crisis. The average amount spent on transport fell to its lowest value in 2013, dropping by 37% in six years. The proportion of budget spent on transport was reduced by a majority of households, whatever the residential location or purchasing power, with the exception of the poorest. Households reacted promptly to the crisis by reducing their purchases of new cars; their spending on transport use was affected less significantly. Poor households or those living in low-density areas were least able to reduce their transport costs.

To cope with the crisis, public transport authorities reduced transport supply and increased fares. They also implemented other measures to bring in extra income which had no impact on transport services. The research concludes that sustainability-oriented transport policies promoting public transport and the reduction of car dependency, together with sustainable land-use policies, may help to limit the household transport budget and the impacts of an economic crisis on mobility.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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