Health and sustainable development

Transport and health equity

Bus transport in Asia. Many women worldwide rely upon public transport for independent access to jobs and services

Transport provides access to jobs, education, services, and recreational activities - critical social determinants of health. Many vulnerable groups, such as women, children and youth, disabled persons, low-income groups, and the elderly, have less access to a personal vehicle; they rely on walking, cycling, and public transport.

Air pollution and noise exposure also tend to poor neighborhoods disproportionately, since lower value homes may be located in close proximity to heavily trafficked areas.

Therefore, improving public and non-motorized transport can improve health equity in two ways: directly reducing air pollution, noise, and injury risks in poor neighbourhoods, and secondly, by increasing mobility and accessibility for the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of society.

Case Study

In many cities, public transport remains unsafe, inefficient, inaccessible or unaffordable to many of the poor in developing cities. For instance, in Manila, transport-related expenses consume 14% of the income of poor households, on average, versus only 7% of the income of the non-poor. Without safely designed pedestrian environments and well-developed public transit networks, disadvantaged groups face barriers to adequate mobility, and by extension, to jobs, social and recreational outlets, schools and health services.