New Perspectives and Methods in Transport and Social Exclusion Research

Cover of New Perspectives and Methods in Transport and Social Exclusion Research


Table of contents

(20 chapters)




Purpose — This chapter provides an overview of contemporary perspectives on transport disadvantage. Definitions of transport disadvantage from the literature are brought together and differing frameworks are discussed. The chapter also examines research topics concerning forced car ownership and coping behaviours related to transport disadvantage.

Methodology — Methodology concerns the review of existing research literature.

Findings — Transport disadvantage is a complex, multidimensional construct brought about by the interaction between land use patterns, the transport system and individual circumstances. Although the majority of literature focuses on transport disadvantage imposed by not owning a car, research into ‘forced’ car ownership suggests that the high costs of owning and running a car can impose transport disadvantage through financial stress. Using alternative modes to the car, getting lifts or restricting travel and access are common coping strategies to deal with transport disadvantage.


Purpose — This chapter explores the concept of social exclusion, the evolution of the term, how it is defined and understood, the place in policy formation and its association with the need for mobility. The association between social exclusion and mobility is overviewed.

Methodology — The concept of social exclusion grew from an understanding that some people are not able to fully participate in mainstream society. Ideas around this were first discussed under the framework of income poverty, moved to ideas of multiple disadvantage and then has clustered around social exclusion. Although many factors have been subsumed under the concept, the ability to be mobile and how this is associated with social exclusion has not been fully explored.

Findings — It is argued that while social exclusion has brought ideas of non-participation in society more firmly into the political agenda, the changing definitions and understandings and failure to build knowledge systematically has hampered the effectiveness of the concept. Social exclusion is viewed in the research reported in this chapter as an issue of social justice defining the critical dimensions needed for a person to be included. Institutional and personal factors, and broad societal trends influence the extent of inclusion/exclusion a person experiences. It is likely that many of these impacts will be influenced by mobility, thus the importance of this research in elucidating what is meant by social exclusion and the key drivers that impact on a person’s ability to participate and maximise their well-being.


Purpose — This chapter presents various conceptualisations of well-being, which focus on the full breadth of hedonic and eudaimonic qualities. A case has been made for why scholars with an interest in transport mobility and transport policy should consider the use of well-being as a valuable outcome measure to complement the standard economy-based utility models currently prevalent in the transport field.

Methodology — Theoretical and empirical evidence supporting the functions and benefits of well-being was appraised. These included the broaden and build theory and the self-determination theory (SDT) of psychological needs. The limits of existing transport mobility approaches were briefly identified, and the advantages of adopting a model, which includes facets of well-being, were outlined.

Findings — Well-being serves several important functions that align with personal needs and with national policy espoused by many world leaders. However, seldom has well-being been included in transport research. This may in part be because the term ‘well-being’ has been misunderstood and its full potential unrealised by those not directly involved in well-being research. In sum, the measurement of well-being in transport mobility research would provide added utility and justification and would help guide future transport mobility initiatives to achieve added benefits to those currently being attained.



Purpose — This chapter presents an overview of the data collection methodology and context for the project as a whole. The aim is to assist the reader in understanding the overall study methodology components and how they fit together. It describes the case study areas of Melbourne and the Latrobe Council of Victoria, Australia. It then describes some initial analyses of secondary data that set the framework for the project. It concludes by describing the field survey used to collect primary data in the study areas. Two different recruitment methods were used and are described.


Purpose — This chapter explores measurement of some of the key concepts used in the research, particularly social exclusion, but also social capital and community connection. In contrast to psychology, other social sciences continue to debate conceptual terms and do not have measurement as a central concern. Thus, there is a need to provide a measurement framework before commencing the research project.

Methodology — This chapter is based on literature searches of how these concepts are understood, used and measured in social science. A lack of precision has possibly contributed to their omission from much current project evaluation and government policy decisions, including around transport. Five principles that have guided the formation of the measurement tool are outlined. This is followed by illustrations of measurement that has been used in key pieces of research.

Findings — Social exclusion is measured using five dimensions important for connection to society: income, employment, political activity, social support and participation. Threshold levels of exclusion are determined for each of these dimensions and the results added to obtain a rating or score for each of the respondents. Social capital is measured by the comprehensiveness of the participant’s social network and whether this network comprises bonding or bridging social capital. Although it is common to include the measurement of trust and reciprocity as part of social capital, networks has been deemed to be the most important component for policy development. Community connectedness is measured using an existing ‘Sense of Community Scale’, verified and commonly used in psychology.


Purpose — In this chapter a case will be made for the importance of measuring well-being in transport mobility research. A number of well-being measures and determinants of well-being will be presented in reference to the current project. This chapter will then conclude with some practical recommendations for transport mobility researchers wishing to include well-being measures in their future studies.

Methodology — Measurement methods associated with previous transport mobility and well-being research will be critically examined so that strengths and limitations can be identified. The measurement approach to well-being adopted for the current project will be presented and associated challenges experienced by the research team will then be discussed.

Findings — A review of the extant transport mobility research which includes an assessment of well-being shows that it is not uncommon for unstandardised measures of well-being to be adopted. In addition, exploration of relationships between transport mobility and well-being are often undertaken without any consideration of potential moderating or mediating factors. More work is needed to advance our knowledge of the transport mobility and well-being relationship and the underlying mechanisms driving this relationship. Research also needs to focus on undertaking longitudinal studies which will enable causation to be established.


Purpose — This chapter presents the methods used to explore transport issues in the study questionnaire. It outlines how transport disadvantage was measured and how transport issues such as forced car ownership, coping strategies, residential location choice and fuel price impacts are explored.

Methodology — The focus of the chapter is methodology description rather than analysis. Questionnaire design is the major method adopted. Much of this is based on previous approaches documented in the research literature.

Findings — Both objective (e.g. trip rates) and subjective methods (self-reported access problems) are used to measure transport disadvantage. The latter included exploring a series of possible problems with travel. A quadrant analysis measuring both the importance and the level of difficult respondents had with aspects of travel was adopted to explore transport disadvantage in more depth. Transport disadvantage was also explored with regard to difficulties in accessing activities due to transport problems. A range of other questions were developed to explore issues of low/zero-car ownership, forced car ownership, coping strategies, residential location choice and fuel price impacts.



Purpose — This chapter provides an overview of the sampling outcomes of the field surveys. This includes a description of the samples from the VISTA Follow-On survey and the Special survey covering both Metropolitan Melbourne and the Latrobe Regional Samples. Analysis includes an assessment of the coverage of the samples plus a discussion of the rationale and outcomes for improved sample coverage from the Special survey.

Methodology — The methodology adopted concerns the quantitative statistical analysis of survey sample coverage and cross tabulation of these findings from statistics on the population being sampled.

Findings — The Vista Follow-On survey approach was an effective means of targeting households for survey and also reduced the number of questions required. However, the resulting sample had low coverage of extremely disadvantaged groups. An adjustment to the survey quotas and a new recruitment method termed the Special survey were implemented to address this issue. This proved effective in obtaining a more balanced sample.


Purpose — This chapter overviews the field survey results. It includes simple tabulations of transport-related survey results, analysis of transport problems, the impact of fuel price increases, home location decisions, forced car ownership (FCO) analysis and coping strategies with low/zero-car ownership. Some preliminary analysis is undertaken of realised trip rates and correlations of elements of the survey results.

Methodology — Methodology concerns the quantitative statistical analysis of survey findings including some simple correlation tests.

Findings — Over half the sample faced difficulty accessing activities because of transport problems. Between 1 and 10% identified activities they cannot do because of transport problems (a higher share in Latrobe).

Nearly half had changed travel habits because of petrol price increases most commonly increasing the activities completed on each trip (trip linking). Affordability was the most important reason for home location. A quarter of those who helped decide where to live now wish they had considered other factors most commonly living closer to public transport. FCO households agreed that transport costs were high and used a diverse range of strategies to reduce costs. A high majority said their choices were limited; however, many also liked the mobility and home location choices they had made.

Results also show a strong positive link between income, employment, car ownership and mobility. Social exclusion and well-being have a negative correlation at a high level of statistical significance.



Purpose — This chapter describes the process used to empirically link the concepts of transport disadvantage, social exclusion and well-being. It fills three important gaps in the research literature: (1) the empirical limitations in measuring the relationship between transport disadvantage and social exclusion, (2) the somewhat homogenous groups used in most studies of social exclusion and (3) the lack of integration with measures of well-being.

Methodology — Structural equation modelling (SEM) is a statistical methodology that examines the underlying structural relationship between variables and displays these relationships pictorially. The methods used to define and measure transport disadvantage, social exclusion and well-being are described. SEM uses principal component analyses to isolate underlying ‘latent’ variables (e.g. social exclusion) using measurable ‘observed’ variables (e.g. income, being employed or not). Regression techniques are then used to examine the structural relationships between these three variables.

Findings — Modelling of the hypothesised relationships between the three variables showed a good statistical fit. The link between transport disadvantage and social exclusions was of a medium–small size (0.28) and statistically significant. Social exclusion had a larger and statistically significant negative impact on well-being (−0.73). Transport disadvantage also had a small but direct negative impact on well-being (−0.15).


Purpose — In this chapter, a series of disaggregated analyses are undertaken to better understand the component nature of transport disadvantage, its variation across geographic locations and its impact on specific social groups. The first section describes the process used to form the four sub-scales of transport disadvantage used in section of Chapter 5.1. The second section compares the transport characteristics experienced in four geographic areas: inner urban, outer urban and fringe Melbourne and regional Victoria.

Methodology — Self-reported transport disadvantage is disaggregated into four factors using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). The characteristics of these four factors and the differences between geographic locations are compared in tabular form with t-tests and chi-square analyses used to assess statistical significance. Some correlation analyses are also used.

Findings — Transport disadvantage characteristics that make people vulnerable/impaired or rely on others have the greatest impacts on well-being. The strongest relationships between transport disadvantage and well-being are experienced in regional and fringe urban areas.


Purpose — This chapter presents research findings in relation to the place of the ability to be mobile in promoting social inclusion.

Approach — A model outlining the relationships between social exclusion, well-being (satisfaction with life), bonding and bridging social capital, sense of community and trips, was explored. The difficulty of measuring complex intangibles in social science was recognised and a number of possible approaches to social capital were examined.

Findings — Despite the different ways of organising the data on social capital, the findings showed the same trends. It was found that the number of trips was important for the relationship between social capital and sense of community on social exclusion and well-being. Bonding and bridging social capital are important for both increasing social inclusion and well-being, both of which are strongly correlated. The number of trips taken by a person acts as a mediating variable to increase bridging social capital and decrease social exclusion. This research illustrates both the complexities and importance of definitions and measurement of social science concepts and the importance of considering their role in transport planning, where their use is new. This research adds a new area of understanding about the role of transport. It moves beyond a narrow view of travel needs and experiences, to the onset of understanding how transport can also facilitate intermediate goals related to social capital and social inclusion and how these social aspects then lead to enhanced well-being.


Purpose — This chapter examines links between mobility, risk of social exclusion (SE) and well-being and uses its findings to impute a value to improved (or reduced) mobility. It applies the relevant value to show the benefits of the Melbourne route bus network and to estimate loadings on individual services that are required for service user benefits to break-even with service costs.

Methodology — The research findings are based on econometric modelling of risk of SE and well-being, as a function of a range of likely contributory factors. The modelling draws on household travel survey data and on survey data specifically collected on factors thought likely to affect risk of SE and/or well-being. These factors include social capital, sense of community, household income and trip making, together with a range of psychological and personality variables.

Findings — The modelling shows that a reduced risk of SE is associated with increases in social capital, sense of community, household income and trip making. A lower risk of SE, in turn, is associated with improved reported personal well-being, which is also affected by a range of psychological variables and age. The analysis shows that additional trip making is very highly valued and that this value increases as household income declines. A case study that applies the resulting values shows that Melbourne’s route bus services produce benefits almost four times their costs and that the ‘social inclusion’ benefits calculated in this research comprise the largest single benefit component. This result is particularly important in supporting further investment in improved public transport services.



Purpose — This chapter reviews the key findings of the reported research in this volume using the wider international literatures on transport and social exclusion as its conceptual framework. It begins by briefly summarising the research and policy context in which the study is set. It then provides an overview of major conceptual, theoretical and methodological advancements relevant to this area over the last 10 years in order to evaluate the study’s contribution to research, policy and practice internationally.

Methodology — The conceptual framework for this chapter is based on a comprehensive review of the international literatures on transport and social exclusion. After a brief introduction to these, it outlines key conceptual, theoretical and methodological advancements as they pertain to transport-related social exclusion. In addition, it evaluates the scope and implications of the methodological approach with particular reference to contemporary scholarly debates in this area. The chapter subsequently explores the applicability of the research in policy and practice, both inside and outside the Australian context.

Findings — The chapter concludes that the research has made a significant contribution to conceptual, theoretical and methodological developments within the area of transport-related exclusion, and has helped move forward related debates within policy circles. Opportunities for further research are also identified.


Purpose — This chapter considers how transport policy and planning has been developing in Victoria in tandem with the research program described elsewhere in this book. Developments in policy and planning are discussed with particular regard to transport disadvantage and social inclusion.

Methodology — The chapter commences by providing a policy and planning context in terms of the geography and demography of travel needs, the relevant jurisdictional responsibilities in Australia and the policy history. It then describes the evolution of transport policy in the past decade and outlines the way in which the findings of this research are being incorporated into the development of programs and projects to support social inclusion. Additionally, some key policy challenges are outlined, at least some of which may provide fruitful areas for undertaking further research to support the development of future policies and programs.

Findings — The results show that applied research can be a highly successful endeavour, particularly when policy and planning perspectives are integrated into the development of the research design and strong collaboration is an ongoing feature of the research program.


Purpose — This chapter considers some key policy implications of the research described in this book on links between transport disadvantage, social exclusion and well-being.

Methodology — Two high-level policy frameworks are outlined and some research results are viewed through the lenses of these frameworks. The two frameworks are (1) place-based versus functional approaches and (2) economic versus social approaches.

Findings — Transport, land use and outreach opportunities are outlined as possible ways to tackle problems of transport disadvantage that may adversely impact social exclusion and well-being. These require place-based approaches. Difficulties in making the switch from traditional functionally based policy thinking to place-based, integrated approaches are highlighted. These difficulties pose a challenge for effective reduction in transport disadvantage and its associated risks of social exclusion and diminished well-being.

The chapter also shows how the traditional economic cost–benefit approach to transport policy becomes much closer to a social policy approach when the research results about the value of improved trip making, as it affects risks of social exclusion, are incorporated in the analysis. Minimum public transport service levels are suggested as meeting both economic and social policy goals in this regard. Community transport is seen as an effective way to tackle some problems of transport disadvantage but as possibly posing risks of entrenched exclusion for some.


Cover of New Perspectives and Methods in Transport and Social Exclusion Research
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