Measuring the inequality of accessible trams in Melbourne

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - australasia, place - urban, mode - tram/light rail, policy - equity, policy - disability, infrastructure - vehicle, infrastructure - stop


Inequality, Gini coefficient, Lorenz curve, Tram transport, Disability, Accessibility


In Melbourne, public policy has recently been enacted to improve access to the tram service with an emphasis upon people with a disability. Achieving that objective requires two elements. One is a low-floor tram and two is an elevated tram stop platform that facilitates boarding the tram. Currently the fleet of trams in Melbourne is made up of high-floor and low-floor designs, thus accessible services are unevenly distributed. In addition, construction of new tram stop platforms has been uneven. This suggests a form of inequality in accessible tram services for the disabled.

Several studies of transport services have addressed this issue using the Gini coefficient and Lorenz curve calculations as seen in studies of disadvantaged groups such as the elderly. This research utilizes those approaches to estimate the current access of the disabled population to trams services in Melbourne. The approach compares the geography of the total and accessible tram services with the geography of the total and disabled population using the Gini coefficient and Lorenz curve.

The results show that there is inequality in the accessible trams amongst people with a disability in Melbourne (Gini = 0.66) as 70% of the disabled population has access to only 22% of the accessible tram supply. In comparison, considering the total tram supply and the entire population, (Gini = 0.48) 70% of the population shares 40% of the tram supply. Hence, at this stage the provision of accessible tram services for people with a disability falls well below that of the general population. These results provide an insight into the current tram service inequality and can be used as a reference for future tram system investment. Further, the approach could be used to increase awareness of this matter and encourage an inclusive and sustainable public transport planning and development in both local and global contexts.


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


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