The Bartlett School of Planning


Beatriz Mella Lira

Research subject

Thesis Title: Urban and Social Equity Impacts from transport. Evidence and approaches from Santiago de Chile

Primary supervisor: Dr Robin Hickman
Secondaty Supervisor: Dr Iqbal Hamiduddin
Sponsor: Becas Chile
Start Date: October 2014
Projected Completion Date: June 2019

Through a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods, the research aims to examine, through a critical appraisal of theoretical approaches and empirical evidence, the factors that result in impacts associated with social equity. It explores the potential of reducing gaps of social inequality, proposing paths for incorporating these factors into the design and assessment processes.

The case study used for locating the discussion is Santiago de Chile, city with one of the highest levels of inequality in terms of socioeconomic distribution. Over the years, not only the need to travel but journey times and travel distances have increased in Santiago as a consequence of social inequalities. Both users of private and public transport have been affected in terms of travel efficiency and journey times, but especially in terms of their daily travel experience and quality of life.

This research recognises the shortcomings of transport project appraisal based on cost-benefit analysis and its emphasis on journey time savings. It thus seeks to expand the criteria on which the merits of projects are assessed. To this end, the Capability Approach has been the primary theoretical approach for configuring the research methodology.

The revision of both conceptual and empirical evidence allowed the research to explore existing inequities of income distribution and opportunities. The results show that inequalities are accentuated by long travel distances and for not having an adequate public transport system. Public transport users and low income segments are usually disadvantaged when compared to any of the other modes of transport. The research ends up discussing points towards the development of transport policies and projects, which more thoroughly consider the range of social, well-being and health impacts.