Moving Australia



 

Social Inclusion and Public Transport

What is Social Inclusion?

Social inclusion refers to a society where all people and communities are given the opportunity to participate fully in political, cultural, civic and economic life.[1]

Social Inclusion relates to people’s ability to participate adequately in society, including education, employment, and public services, social and recreational activities.[2]

International research has shown that social inclusion can lead to greater social cohesiveness and better standards of health.  Designing facilities to encourage meeting and social interaction in communities can improve mental health. [3]

 

Social Inclusion and Public Transport

Suburbs that depend solely on cars for access can isolate people without cars – particularly the young and old.  Social isolation and lack of community interaction are associated with poorer health.[4]

In car dependent societies like Australia, the lack of car availability, in particular, is well known to be a significant constraint on social inclusion and economic participation. The 2006 Australian Census, for example, showed that[5]:

 

Research shows that there is a clear and significant association between trip/activity levels and risk of social, exclusion, allowing for other factors that also influence this risk.  Improving mobility is likely to reduce risks of social exclusion.[6] 

The association between trip making, household income and risk of social exclusion, has enabled the value of improved mobility to be estimated and this has been shown to be much higher than is currently assumed in conventional transport cost-benefit studies. 

The bus industry has a significant role to play in improving social inclusion, particularly in areas of our cities where car ownership is less affordable and for sections of our community for whom driving is not an option. It is estimated that the social inclusion value of a bus trip is as high as $A23.25 a trip.[7]

The important consequence is that public transport improvements which enable new trips to be undertaken should be rated much more highly than at present and the overall community value of public transport will be higher than estimated to date.

Table 1: Indicative Annual Value of Melbourne’s Route Bus Services[8]

Integration of land use and transport can provide accessible transport – for people with different levels of mobility, including those with disabilities. Cycling, walking and public transport can stimulate social interaction on the streets as well as have health benefits for residents. 

Beyond mass public transport, active and non motorised public transport has a role to play in enhancing social inclusion and well being.

Pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods encourage more walking and cycling, allowing for more interactions between neighbours and increasing the sense of community in residents, thereby producing both mental and physical health benefits. [9]

 

Rural and Regional Mobility

More than 30 per cent of Australians live in regional and rural communities (ABS 2001).  The issues faced by rural and regional commuters are of a different nature to their urban counterparts and that is recognised here. A lack of or no public transport services, the infrequency of services, the high cost of transport and the lack of connectivity between regional centres are the key policy challenges in the area of rural and regional transport .

Research from the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research shows the typical rural and regional dweller in Australia has a much lower accessibility to services than those living in metropolitan areas with core services falling within a 30km radius in these areas rather than the 1.4km radius in metropolitan areas. [10]

The impacts of these issues are felt most keenly amongst the young people in regional and rural communities who constitute 6 per cent of our total population.

The BIC is undertaking research which aims to improve rural and regional mobility.

The research focuses on the development of a social enterprise model which coordinates a number of available modes of community and public transport to meet demand and improve transport services in rural and regional Australia.

The results of this research will be on this website when they are available.

 



[1] Healthy Spaces and Places, 2012, Social Inclusion, available at: http://www.healthyplaces.org.au/site/social_inclusion_-_full_text.php

[2] Litman, T., 2003, Social Inclusion as a Transport Planning Issue in Canada,

[3] Healthy Spaces and Places, 2012, Social Inclusion, available at: http://www.healthyplaces.org.au/site/social_inclusion_-_full_text.php

[4] Barrett and Stanley ,2008, Moving People: Solutions for a Growing Australia, ARA, BIC, UITP

[5] Ibid.,

[6] Stanley, J. 2011, Mobility Social Exclusion and Wellbeing, Report to the 59th UITP World Congress

[7] Ibid.,

[8] Stanley, J. 2011, Mobility Social Exclusion and Wellbeing, Report to the 59th UITP World Congress 

[9] Giles-Corti, B., 2006, ‘The Impact of Urban Form on Public Health’, paper prepared for the 2006 Australian State of the Environment Committee.

[10] National Institute of Economic and Industry Research (2009), Essential Services in Urban and Regional Australia – a Quantitative Comparison.



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