Evaluating Spatial Justice in Rail Transit: Access to Terminals by Foot

There has been a growing interest to improve urban rail services for increasing a city’s economic competitiveness. While accessibility provided by rail services has been the focus of many studies, determining accessibility to rail stations is less investigated. The present study examines how accessibility to rail stations via walking has social justice implications. Accessibility can be measured by socioeconomic background, trip characteristics, self-selection, and neighborhood characteristics. Commuters from two rail stations in Auckland, New Zealand—a transit-oriented development (TOD) and a local station—participated in an interactive online survey. Spatial and statistical measures were used to assess the ease of access to the two stations. Under the developed framework, which evaluates social justice in transit, minimum accessibility should be provided (sufficientarianism) and accessibility should disproportionately benefit the less well-off (egalitarianism). The findings show that minimum accessibility was not met for either station, but the TOD station provides better access for low-income individuals. This study contributes by demonstrating the use of a developed framework to evaluate accessibility to rail stations via walking from a social justice perspective. This can be adapted to analyze the accessibility to rail stations in an urban environment of any city.