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Suburbanization of poverty, transport disadvantage, and travel behaviour outcomes in Toronto

Authors: Jeff Allen*, University of Toronto, Steven Farber, University of Toronto Scarborough
Topics: Transportation Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: transportation, neighborhood change, accessibility, travel behavior, suburbanization, poverty
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Many cities have undergone spatial re-distributions of low-SES populations from central to suburban neighbourhoods over the past several decades. A potential negative impact of these trends is that low-SES populations are concentrating in areas which are more auto-oriented, less walkable, and have lower levels of public transit service. This could be resulting in increased barriers to daily travel and activity participation, particularly for those who are unable to afford a private vehicle. Accordingly, the objective of our paper is to examine the links between increasing socio-spatial inequalities, transport disadvantage, and travel behaviour outcomes in the Toronto region from 1991 to 2016 using data from the quinquennial Canadian census and a regional travel survey. Through computing transport accessibility metrics, novel spatial (de)-centralization indices, as well as statistical mapping we find that low-SES households have shifted from central to inner-suburban neighbourhoods over this period, but this has occurred alongside improvements in transit accessibility in inner-suburban areas and only minor increases in zero-car households outside of the core. Through a neighbourhood-level cluster analysis, we find that even though there have been spatial re-distributions, the level of transport disadvantage and travel behaviour outcomes for low-SES neighbourhoods has remained relatively stable over time compared to other neighbourhood types. However, the population in the region has increased over time, meaning there have also been increases in the total amount of households in transport poor neighbourhoods.

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