How just is transportation justice theory? The issues of paternalism and production

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - north america, policy - equity


Transportation justice, Public transportation, Accessibility, Ethics, Social justice


The topic of justice has increasingly attracted attention from transportation scholars, and a variety of perspectives and approaches are employed to study this topic. Arguably the most elaborate and sophisticated theory is put forward by Karel Martens in his 2017 book “Transport justice”. We start with a critical reading of Karel Martens’ work which is based on the work of liberal philosophers such as Richard Dworkin. While Martens makes several telling points, we explore how debates in the justice literature apply to the case of transportation, and may question aspects of transportation justice theory. In particular we discuss the issues of (1) the paternalistic treatment of people below the accessibility poverty line, and (2) the production and planning of transportation services. Two cases are used to inform this theoretical discussion, on the one hand, the Transportation Justice movement in California, and on the other, the “basic accessibility” debate in Flanders (Belgium).


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


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