Transport Justice in the Suburbs: leveraging social capital to alleviate transport disadvantage

Abstract

Transport infrastructure and transport services are vital to a city’s function. Transport connects citizens to employment, goods, services and each other. Despite this shared understanding of the central role of transport in urban life, for some city residents, the cost, availability, reliability, convenience and/or quality of transport constrain their access to the city’s assets. These individuals experience transport disadvantage. Transport disadvantage is strongly associated with locational and social disadvantage, though causality is complex and context specific.

In this inquiry, Laurel uses over a decade of longitudinal research to investigate transport disadvantage at a single urban location. The purpose of the research is to understand the factors that alleviate transport disadvantage. The research method is qualitative dominant mixed methods and the theoretical interest is the role of social capital in mediating the effect of transport disadvantage.

The findings have methodological, policy and theoretical implications. The most significant of these is that ‘linking social capital’ in the form of authentic ‘power with’ and enduring local governance arrangements can be potent in resolving transport disadvantage. This model of governance has been successful in delivering new transport infrastructure and services designed by residents in response to local transport need.

Biography

Laurel Johnson is an academic in the urban planning program. Laurel has undertaken over 50 research projects as Director of her consultancy service and as an academic. In 2004, for the first time in Australia, Laurel applied community mapping in transport disadvantage research in communities in the south west of the Brisbane metropolis. That research received significant media, public and Government interest and it led to local transport infrastructure and service improvements in the case study communities. At the time, she was a Senior Research Fellow in the Urban Research Program at Griffith University. In 2017, Laurel returned to one of these communities to undertake longitudinal transport research. In this seminar, Laurel will share her longitudinal transport disadvantage research methods and findings. In particular, she will present her iterative mixed methods approach and promote the role of linking social capital in improving mobility in areas of entrenched transport disadvantage. The seminar will provoke reflection on the impact of University research and the University researcher in transformative research for social justice.