Project description

The REsilient Systems fOr Land Use TransportatION Project explores the impacts of unequal access to transport on different social groups in the metropolitan areas of London and São Paulo. The project looks at the relationship between transport accessibility and socio-economic segregation in these two equally large but very distinct metropolitan areas.

The main aim of the project is to develop a generic system for exploring the impact of transportation on social segregation which can be applied beyond the case study areas. Through measures, the project aims to reveal resilience as well as vulnerability with respect to social and spatial segregation with a focus on transport and movement.

More specifically, the project aims to develop a) a strong physical-functional measurement of accessibility across many spatial scales with focus on relationships to poverty and inequality as reflected in the segregation and polarisation of different social groups; and, b) a simple model of residential segregation that relate to how changes in transportation exacerbate or reduce spatial segregation, locking in or out different populations from access to transport.

The project has a strong comparative focus, using one city to probe the other and, thus, testing methodologies, hypothesis and theories to different urban contexts. The project aims to identify similarities and differences between the two metropolitan regions to tease out the broader social implications of transport access on mobility, segregation and other trends.

While São Paulo and London are comparable cities in terms of their population and area at both municipal and metropolitan levels, a major challenge for the project is to establish the comparability of two metropolitan areas with such distinct urban morphology, history and society. Direct equivalency is often not possible neither desirable, as differences must be considered and embraced in all phases of the project. Even though data availability and quality in Brazil is better than other countries in the Global South, comparability of data is also a challenge and some of the solutions developed are replicable to other cases and, thus, important contributions by the project.

The project is organised in four phases. The first phase is a study of comparability of the two study areas as well as definition of the metropolitan region for London (this phase has now been completed). The second phase is the study of accessibility and segregation patterns followed by the comparison between accessibility and segregation and a development of a combined index. Finally, the fourth phase is the development of a simple agent-based model which explores the dynamics between residential location (and thus segregation) and accessibility via transport. All outputs will be made available through two geoportals which will facilitate comparisons between data and results.

The project results will hopefully be of relevance to a range of stakeholders, including policy makers, academics and planners, working on improving opportunities for marginalised groups through more equitable transport systems. As the focus is comparative and global, the findings will have broader implications not only for London and São Paulo but also other large cities facing the same challenges.