Justice in public transport systems: A comparative study of Auckland, Brisbane, Perth and Vancouver

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - australasia, place - north america, planning - methods, policy - equity


Justice, Public transport, Accessibility, Equity


Although the concept of social justice seems to be ubiquitous in most transportation plans, methods adopted to evaluate transit systems have little engagement with political theories to define justice. Without a proper definition, transport planners will be unable to design transit systems that achieve justice. The present study proposes a combination of sufficientarianism and egalitarianism principles to define justice in transit. Based on this framework 1) access to public transport is a right, 2) public transport should provide a minimum accessibility, 3) public transport should benefit the less well-off groups, and 4) a just distribution has to be spatially evaluated. The framework proposes a method that can be used to measure and compare justice in transit systems. The framework is applied to four case study cities, Auckland, Brisbane, Perth, and Vancouver. The results show that Auckland's transit system performs well relative to the other three case study cities by accounting for people and providing a minimum access to jobs. However, Auckland's transit services fail in the just distribution as it favours more affluent neighbourhoods. This issue is more severe in Brisbane's and Perth's transit systems. Vancouver, on the other hand, provides a better service for low-income neighbourhoods. This study contributes to the field of justice in transit by providing a clearly defined framework which can be adopted to analyse a city's transit system and compare it with other cities. It is expected to assist practitioners in obtaining insights that can inform policy decisions.


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