Transport can further the social development agenda, notably gender equality, accessibility, safety, inclusiveness and social mobility. However, current transport systems, infrastructure and services do not address the travel behaviour and preferences of all user groups. Transport users in low-income households, women, disabled persons, the elderly and those who live in rural areas, may find current transport systems unsafe, restricted and uncomfortable. Moving from one location to another can therefore be fraught with risks, ranging from minor inconvenience to violent crime. Due to a lack of access to private modes of transport, users from low-income households often rely more on walking, biking and public transport. Travel restrictions also exacerbate economic and social disadvantages, leading to longer travel time yet fewer and shorter-distance trips for low-income users, the elderly and people with disabilities. Gender differences exist in transport as well, where women tend to travel shorter distances, make more trips at off-peak hours and choose more flexible modes. Women’s safety concerns can also determine mode choice.
Parallel to rapid urbanization, rural population has decreased across the Asia-Pacific region, affecting the sustainability of rural transport networks. Inadequate access in rural areas creates structural challenges for marginalized populations, who are frequently low-income individuals, seniors, students and people with disabilities.
This priority area focuses on developing the knowledge basis for designing transport policies that can measurably reduce poverty and inequality. ESCAP uses technology, innovation, automation, digitization, regional and multi-stakeholder cooperation, relevant data and policy analysis, and technical assistance tools to assess and address:
- Transport challenges faced by different user groups including those in low-income households, women, disabled persons, the elderly and transport users in rural areas.
- Gender sensitive transport policies.
- The improvement of skills of the sector’s workforce.