Accessibility and the Capabilities Approach: a review of the literature and proposal for conceptual advancements

The Capability Approach, developed by Sen and Nussbaum, has recently gained increasing attention in the transport literature. This paper adds to this growing body of literature by investigating how the approach can generate consistent evaluative approaches to inform (urban) transport planning. The paper reviews the mobility literature that has investigated the Capabilities Approach and identifies the opportunities and challenges of employing the approach as a basis for transport planning. The review highlights the different, and sometimes patchy, ways in which the key notions of the approach have been conceptualised and operationalised. Discussing this growing but scattered literature, the paper embraces the emerging direction that understands accessibility as the capability that transport planning and policy should consider. Further refining this understanding, the paper proposes a twofold evaluative approach combining a top-down and a bottom-up component to capture the myriad of conversion factors shaping people's accessibility-as-capability and functioning. By systematically adopting the Capabilities Approach, transport planning and mobility policies will be directed to enhancing each person's freedom to pursue the life they have reason to value in contemporary societies.
Accessibility, Capabilities Approach, Mobility, Transport planning, Transport policy, Distributive Justice, Public Transport, Mobility, Travel, Context, Functionings