Accessibility in São Paulo: An individual road to equity?

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - south america, place - urban, policy - equity, policy - sustainable, land use - impacts


Individual Accessibility, Transport modes, Inequality, São Paulo


Unequal access to urban opportunities is a challenge for planners and policy makers, particularly in cities of the Global South. This study investigates inequalities in accessibility in São Paulo from an individual-based perspective, adopting a methodological approach that overcomes the high computational and data requirements that typically hinder large-scale applications of individual-based accessibility metrics. The adoption of individual accessibility metrics that can be aggregated a posteriori by economic class, transport mode use, and spatially, produced increased understanding of accessibility patterns both across and within population groups. The analysis revealed that individuals from the upper classes have access to significantly more opportunities than their lower-class counterparts. Results across modes of transport showed that inequalities related to transport modes reinforce and aggravate inequalities originated from distinct location patterns. The study produced evidence that the use of cars and motorbikes enable individuals to improve their own accessibility levels with a positive effect on equity levels across economic classes. The effects of such individual initiatives on equity are, however, unsustainable in the longer run, highlighting the need for public policies that address the roots of access inequality in São Paulo: an inequitable public transport system and strong disparity in locational advantages across economic classes.


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


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