The unequal impacts of time, cost and transfer accessibility on cities, classes and races

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - north america, place - south america, place - urban, policy - equity, land use - impacts, ridership - disadvantage


Inequalities, Accessibility, Affordability, Public transport, Class, Race


Inequalities are structured and reproduced in multiple dimensions and scales. From countries to neighborhoods, socio-spatial structure interacts with urban and public transportation development and results in uneven access to opportunities in manifold aspects. By looking at cities in distinct positions of the globalized world, São Paulo, New York City and London, we demonstrate that travel times, costs and transfers have different impacts on job accessibility of social classes and ethnic-racial groups living in different areas of cities in different parts of the world. At the global scale, while the monetary cost of travel relative to income has a small impact on accessibility in central and developed countries, it substantially diminishes the access to opportunities of a large share of the population in peripheral and developing countries. Also, social class has a strong influence on accessibility levels among whites, and upper classes are far better than middle and lower classes. Among blacks, however, historical trajectories of development have a major role in explaining accessibility. The analysis of socio-spatial inequalities in multiple dimensions and scales highlights the centrality of the affordability dimension in transport studies and also its importance to the evaluation and formulation of contextualized policies, particularly in the peripheral world.


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