The Nirvana Terms of Transportation: What do they Really Mean, How do they Relate to One Another, and What is Their Practical Utility in Transportation Planning?

Within the transportation field there exist a collection of nirvana terms; terms such as equity, accessibility, quality of life, and well-being are buzz words used by a wide variety of stakeholders to express a desire to implement socially sustainable transportation systems. However, while these are commonly held interests supported by social policies and initiatives such as the Sustainable Development Goals, there is widespread misunderstanding and subsequent misuse of these concepts. This paper first draws on expertise from a variety of fields outside of transportation to define these terms, how they relate to one another, and how they can be utilized within the transportation sector. The authors ultimately argue that individual-level, stated preference data is required to provide a theoretically-sound measure of social sustainability, and that collecting this data qualitative data through public participatory approaches is both necessary from a normative standpoint and worth the effort from a cost-effective standpoint. Finally, an exploratory analysis of surveys collected by the Latin American Development Bank (CAF) in 2009 and 2011 is performed to identify links between public transportation and overall life satisfaction variables.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper was sponsored by TRB committee ADD40 Standing Committee on Transportation and Sustainability.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board

  • Authors:
    • Lewis, Elyse O'C
    • MacKenzie, Don
  • Conference:
  • Date: 2019


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 11p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01697938
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 19-01758
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Dec 7 2018 9:42AM