Elevating access: Comparing accessibility to jobs by public transport for individuals with and without a physical disability

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, ridership - disadvantage, planning - methods, policy - disability


Equity, Disabled access, Job accessibility, Travel time


Equal access to opportunities has emerged in public transport planning as a social objective that many transport agencies are trying to achieve. Yet in practice, not all public transport agencies are currently providing urban residents with comparable levels of service due to physical barriers in the public transport network that can significantly hinder the ability of individuals with physical disabilities to access opportunities. In countries without a strong federal accessibility act and/or with major financial constraints, some public transport agencies fall behind in applying universal access design principles, making it even harder for people with a physical disability to access opportunities. The objective of this study is to develop a methodology that can be used by public transport agencies or disability advocates to clearly highlight and quantify the performance of the public transport network in a region, in terms of providing transit services to people in a wheelchair and compare that to the service offered to an individual not in a wheelchair. In this study we use accessibility, the ease of reaching destinations, by public transport as the key performance measure in two major Canadian Cities (Montreal and Toronto). Furthermore, we focus on job accessibility in the most socially vulnerable census tracts in both cities, to evaluate levels of job accessibility for wheelchair users residing in socially vulnerable areas. The findings from our study show striking contrasts between the numbers of accessible jobs by public transport for wheelchair users compared to the general population. On average, wheelchair users in Toronto have access to 75% of jobs that are accessible to users that are not in a wheelchair, whilst their counterparts in Montreal have access to only 46% of the jobs accessible to other users. This research is expected to highlight for public transport engineers, planners, policy makers and advocates for those with disabilities, the importance of universal access in a region, especially along public transport networks, using a widely used land use and transport performance measure.


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


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