SDGs 2030 target 11.2 aims at providing “access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons” by 2030. This vulnerable population also includes low-income people, especially in the context of developing countries. In developing countries’ cities, poverty is likely to be concentrated in the urban periphery far from the CBD (Central Business District) where jobs and other activities are concentrated. Thus, one of the goals of investment in public transport is to reduce these spatial and social inequalities by improving accessibility to jobs and other opportunities for vulnerable populations.
This literature review aims to summarize recent empirical evidence on urban transport and equity in developing countries as well as to introduce the theoretical foundations of transport equity so that gaps for further research may be identified. Overall, the existing literature reveals that it is mainly lower-income segments that are likely to be disadvantaged as measured by potential accessibility. Possible factors underlying this transport inequality may include disadvantageous fare structures for lower-income populations and so on, but the mechanism behind this depends on its context in each city. These consequences may relate to the traditional appraisal methodologies for transport projects that highlight economic efficiency. To plan and design more inclusive transport projects, further studies including improving appraisal methodologies focusing more on equity aspects are necessary. In this regard, this literature review identifies research gaps including differing methodological points of view in the transport projects. Filling these gaps would also contribute to planning more inclusive transport projects from a practical point of view.