The importance of understanding perceptions of accessibility when addressing transport equity: A case study in Greater Nottingham, UK

Angela Curl


To deal with issues of equity in transport, increasing attention is being paid to addressing inequalities in accessibility. Existing approaches to measuring accessibility tend to focus on objective measurement, often using journey time as an indicator of spatial separation of people from places. However, using objective measures of spatial accessibility could obscure inequities in accessibility that occur due to differences in perceptions of accessibility among (groups of) individuals.

This paper uses data from a case study in Greater Nottingham, UK, to demonstrate that there are differences between self-reported and objective measures of journey time access to destinations. Self-reported journey times to a number of destinations by walking, public transport, and car are compared with a nationally available dataset of accessibility indicators. Then, factors associated with self-reported journey times are investigated to understand what accounts for differences between individual’s self-reported understanding and objective measures of journey time accessibility.

Results show that there is a difference between self-reported and objective measures, and that objective measures usually underestimate journey time accessibility. These differences occur because of demographic factors (e.g., age), trip familiarity, and destination definition. If accessibility metrics are to be used to address issues of social inequity related to transport, then there is a need to consider how diverse perceptions of accessibility relate to objective measures and to develop approaches that can account for social as well as spatial variation in accessibility.


accessibility; social inclusion; equity; perceptions

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Copyright (c) 2018 Angela Curl