Just transition for the transport sector: a discussion paper

This discussion paper is intended to support engagement on a just transition for the transport sector. Building on this engagement, a draft targeted action plan and route map (late 23/24) will outline the key steps to delivering a fair transition for the sector.

Annex B – State of the sector – transport

This is drawn from the Social and Equality Impact Assessment (SEQIA) – NTS Delivery Plan | Transport Scotland, as identified in Section 1.1 of this discussion paper. A variety of factors influence the accessibility of the transport system and the choices people make about how they travel. Presented below are the key issues faced by groups disproportionately facing barriers relating to transport, to give an overview of some of the challenges a just transition will aim to address.

Key issues for children and young people:

  • Young people are more dependent on public transport, particularly for accessing education and training.
  • Availability of public transport in rural areas and island communities is a significant challenge for young people.
  • Children are more vulnerable to the impact of traffic-related noise and air pollution.

Key issues for older people:

  • For older people, the lack of access to public transport services can act as a barrier to accessing key services, including healthcare.
  • Accessibility issues relating to the loss of mobility can have both physical and psychological impacts.
  • Older people are more vulnerable to the impact of traffic-related noise and air pollution.
  • Accessibility issues are likely to affect older people more than other groups.

Key issues for disabled people:

  • Issues facing disabled people or those with long-term limiting illness are often exacerbated by low levels of employment, low income and living in areas of relative deprivation.
  • Affordability and accessibility barriers to public facilities, including lack of suitable transport in the care pathway, hostile pedestrian environments, inaccessible infrastructure and online information, and personal aspirations to reduce private car use.
  • Lack of cycle infrastructure for adapted bicycles, and costs associated with non-standard cycles.
  • Safety and security concerns when using public transport, especially at night.

Key issues for pregnant women:

  • Pregnant women are more vulnerable to the harmful effects of air pollution than others.
  • Pregnant women or parents travelling with pushchairs and young children may find journeys are uncomfortable or difficult, especially without rest stops. People with pushchairs may find certain public transport options inaccessible.
  • Pregnant women may have safety concerns about travelling at night or during quieter times of day. They may also find it difficult to travel safely during peak hours.

Key issues for ethnic minority groups:

  • Since ethnic minority groups are less likely to have access to a car, and more likely to rely on public transport than other groups, issues of cost and safety may disproportionately impact them and affect outcomes and opportunities available.
  • Ethnic minority groups, particularly those from black backgrounds, were over-represented among key workers and those who were made unemployed during the pandemic. Therefore, this group may be more dependent on actions to support COVID-19 recovery.
  • Some ethnic minority groups are more likely to be subject to hate crimes and discrimination. This could create barriers to using public transport services and facilities for these groups.

Key issues for religious groups:

  • There is a clear link between religion and economic inequality. Muslims are more likely to experience socio-economic disadvantages than other groups.
  • Discrimination, assault or harassment on the basis of religious identity may affect people of some religious groups more than others, with potential consequences on their choice to use public transport and public transport facilities

Key issues for women:

  • Women are more likely than men to have low incomes, be in part-time and/or insecure work and live in poverty than men. This is especially the case among ethnic minority women.
  • Women are more likely to walk, be a passenger in a car, or take the bus than men. They are more likely than men to make multi-stop and multi-purpose trips, combining travel to work with trips for other purposes such as taking children to school, looking after family members or shopping.
  • Women are more likely to be victims of sexual assault. They are more likely to have concerns about safety and security issues with regards to the use of public transport at night out of fear of being harassed or sexually assault.

Key issues for LGBTQ people:

  • People in this group may be concerned about being able to access public transport and public transport facilities, especially at night when these may be poorly lit, for fear of harassment or discrimination.
  • Limited information and data is available on the LGBTQ population, including the lived experiences of this group with regards to transport.
  • Transgender people are likely to have lower incomes and therefore are at a higher risk of transport poverty.
  • Transgender or gender non-conforming people may have concerns about using public transport or public transport facilities such as toilets, for fear of being harassed or discriminated against.
  • Limited information and data are available on the transgender population, including the lived experiences of this group with regards to transport.

Socio-economic inequality

Transport costs can influence the extent to which various communities use the transport system. For low-income individuals specifically, cost is the most significant transport-related obstacle. Evidence shows that access to bikes also increases with household income and household size, with bicycle access being higher in rural areas than urban areas.

Transport can act as a key barrier to employment, and most importantly, to better employment.[39] It represents a significant cost particularly to those that carry out low-paid, low-skilled or 'atypical' work that involves irregular shifts or hours, as standard public transport services are not usually provided during anti-social hours and walking/cycling may be unsafe.

According to the SIMD, in 2020, the most deprived data zones tended to be in urban areas and their suburbs. National trends also indicate that income and transport poverty disproportionally affect groups who face existing structural disadvantages, including disabled people, women and specific ethnic groups.


Email: justtransition@gov.scot

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