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Justice in transport as justice in accessibility: applying Walzer’s ‘Spheres of Justice’ to the transport sector


  • Karel Martens



This paper seeks to provide a theoretical basis for a distributive approach to transport. Using the theory developed by Michael Walzer in his ‘Spheres of Justice’ ( 1983 ), I argue that the transport good, defined as accessibility, should be distributed in a so-called separate sphere, i.e. independent from the way in which other key goods, like money or power, are allocated. I subsequently explore what kind of justice principle could guide the distribution of the transport good, once a separate sphere would be established. This preliminary exploration results in the elimination of a number of widely supported distributive principles, and in the tentative identification of a criterion matching the particularities of the transport good. The explorations in the paper are not intended as final answers, but rather seek to open the debate about the need for an explicit distributive transport policy and the distributive principle that should guide such a policy. Copyright The Author(s) 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Karel Martens, 2012. "Justice in transport as justice in accessibility: applying Walzer’s ‘Spheres of Justice’ to the transport sector," Transportation, Springer, vol. 39(6), pages 1035-1053, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:transp:v:39:y:2012:i:6:p:1035-1053
    DOI: 10.1007/s11116-012-9388-7

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:trapol:v:63:y:2018:i:c:p:98-107 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Claire Papaix & Ariane Dupont-Kieffer, 2015. "Accessibility to work by public transit and its social distribution in Lille, France," Working Papers 1506, Chaire Economie du climat.
    3. Hananel, Ravit & Berechman, Joseph, 2016. "Justice and transportation decision-making: The capabilities approach," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 78-85.
    4. Verbich, David & El-Geneidy, Ahmed, 2017. "Public transit fare structure and social vulnerability in Montreal, Canada," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 43-53.
    5. El-Geneidy, Ahmed & Levinson, David & Diab, Ehab & Boisjoly, Genevieve & Verbich, David & Loong, Charis, 2016. "The cost of equity: Assessing transit accessibility and social disparity using total travel cost," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 302-316.
    6. Karner, Alex, 2016. "Planning for transportation equity in small regions: Towards meaningful performance assessment," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 46-54.
    7. Karen Lucas & Bert Wee & Kees Maat, 2016. "A method to evaluate equitable accessibility: combining ethical theories and accessibility-based approaches," Transportation, Springer, vol. 43(3), pages 473-490, May.
    8. Rowangould, Dana & Karner, Alex & London, Jonathan, 2016. "Identifying environmental justice communities for transportation analysis," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 151-162.
    9. Mullen, Caroline & Tight, Miles & Whiteing, Anthony & Jopson, Ann, 2014. "Knowing their place on the roads: What would equality mean for walking and cycling?," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 238-248.
    10. Karel Martens, 2012. "A justice-theoretic exploration of accessibility measures," Chapters,in: Accessibility Analysis and Transport Planning, chapter 11, pages 195-210 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. Boussauw, Kobe & Vanoutrive, Thomas, 2017. "Transport policy in Belgium: Translating sustainability discourses into unsustainable outcomes," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 11-19.
    12. repec:eee:trapol:v:63:y:2018:i:c:p:122-130 is not listed on IDEAS


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