Socio-spatial and temporal dimensions of transport equity for London's night time economy

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - urban, mode - bus, policy - equity, operations - frequency, operations - service span


Transport, Equity, Night time economy


The sustainable mobility paradigm has dominated the urban transport research agenda for more than a decade. This paradigm focuses on the environmental impacts of travel and the imperative for climate change mitigation, however the specific outcomes of transport in terms of trip type and purpose are not robustly conceptualised, with limited intellectual foundations to understand the ethical considerations of transport service provision. This paper critically considers transport strategies recently developed for London’s Night Time Economy, including policy discourse and technical approaches that shape of transport services provision at night. The case study evaluates the spatiotemporal dimensions of equity. Analysis of policy discourses revealed how night time transport are conceived as an instrumental means to grow the ‘Night Time Economy’, drawing from the conventional wisdom linking accessibility improvements with economic expansion. This strategy viewed ‘London at night’ as a vehicle for economic development, focusing on the consumption-side of the economy and improving individuals’ access to entertainment and recreation. Policy discourse recognised the existence of night-time workers in sectors outside arts and recreation, however, attempts to broaden the ‘Night Time Economy’ agenda to accommodate the travel needs of night-time workers were lost through the narrow selection of accessibility metrics used in transport planning practice. This case demonstrates a missed opportunity to improve transport equity across spatial and temporal dimensions, as night-time workers face severe accessibility barriers, often relying on low-frequency bus services that have inadequate service coverage across Greater London. Scrutinising socio-spatial and temporal dimensions of transport provision can advance more systematic critical perspectives on transport equity by integrating a variety of distributional issues and linking more closely to the practical barriers faced by night-time workers to access transport.


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


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