Exploring poverty-transport linkages

Mobility practices of the urban poor in Ahmedabad

Project details

Full project title: Exploring poverty-transport linkages: Mobility practices of the urban poor in Ahmedabad (India)

Research student: Rutul Joshi

Supervisory team: Professor Graham Parkhurst, Dr Charles Musselwhite and Dr Yusak Susilo

Start date: February 2010

Finish date: January 2013

Research briefing sheet: Download the briefing sheet document (PDF)

Project summary

The research aims to explore through a specific city case-study why the poor in developing countries make (or create) their travel and mobility choices and how these choices are influenced by urban transport planning and governance.

One of the crucial aspects of urban poverty in India and elsewhere in the developing world is the role the transport system plays in preventing or enabling the poor to access resources which are crucial for their daily activities. Transport-based mobility can be seen as negotiating choices and weighing options between residential mobility (moving residences over time) and labour market mobility (changing jobs). Relatively little is known about how the urban poor negotiate the complexities of their daily lives in relation to their mobility (and travel) choices viz. existing transport systems, land use structure and the planning policies. This research intends to target this gap in the academic discourse of inclusive urban transport.

The city of Ahmedabad in India is selected as a case study. This city is known for its pro-poor initiatives and sustainable transport projects. Ahmedabad has some typical characteristics of urbanisation in south Asia such as rapid population growth caused by industrialization and rural-urban migration, informal labour and housing markets. This is coupled with very high motorisation and building of infrastructure that facilitates automobile use. This city provides a strong, unique yet comparable context to place mobility practices of the poor and to discuss possible poverty and transport linkages.

The research questions for this study consider the travel and mobility choices of the poor in long term and short term, focusing on why do they make these choices and whether such choices help them escaping poverty or not.