Research conducted over the last few decades in many western countries confirms that there is a mutually reinforcing relationship between transport poverty (i.e. lack of access to both private and public mobility resources) and social exclusion (inability to fully participate in life-enhancing activities).
In these contexts, households that do not own cars are overwhelmingly concentrated in the lowest income quintiles, where approximately only half of households own cars. For low income households with cars, mobility is still reduced -- they make significantly fewer trips and travel much shorter distances than their higher-income, car-owning counterparts.
The experience of reduced mobility often means that low income households are unable to fully participate in key activities, such as employment, education, health care and food shopping. It is perhaps for these reasons that car ownership among low-income households in the UK has increased more rapidly year on year than for other income brackets. Yet this statistical trend tells us very little about the actual motivations behind why people living on or near ‘the breadline’ (i.e. in poverty) are willing to commit so much of their limited financial resources to owning and running a private vehicle. They do so even when they find it difficult to afford other basic necessities, such as food, warmth, shelter and clothing. Much of transportation policy is based on the idea that low-income people do not own cars. Yet a growing body of evidence suggests that this is no longer the case.
What does the experience of low-income car ownership mean for our work in transportation, and what lessons learned from other western countries can help guide our efforts here in Canada? Join transportation expert Karen Lucas as she explores these issues and discusses the ‘auto motives’ of low-income populations, by drawing on case study evidence from different geographical and social contexts over the last 20 yrs.