Challenges for Transport and Public Services
Edited by Karst T. Geurs, Roberto Patuelli and Tomaz Ponce Dentinho
Chapter 3: Population decline and accessibility in the Portuguese interior
Improvements in accessibility increase the attractiveness of a place, as they increase the number of opportunities that can be reached by its population (Wachs and Kumagai 1977). While this idea is generally valid in the case of urban areas, in rural contexts improvements in the ease of access of distant places can also contribute to population decline, as they may induce people to move to those other places and then travel regularly to their home towns to visit friends and family. More broadly, the role of transport as a pull or push factor for migration in rural areas depends on the type of accessibility it improves. It is important to identify the type of destinations that are made accessible. For example, different populations place a different value on access to national, regional or local centres, and on access to jobs or services (Farrington and Farrington 2005). The mode of transport is also relevant. While improvements in private transport accessibility are directly linked with the reduction of travel times on the road network, improvements in public transport accessibility also depend on the suitability of services and schedules and on levels of access to transport nodes such as train or bus stations (Ochojna and Brownlee 1977; Nutley 1985; Martin et al. 2002; Martin et al. 2008). Empirical research can only capture the relationships between accessibility and population dynamics if the measures of accessibility used reflect the changes to the options that are considered as feasible by the populations.
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