Handbook on Transport and Urban Transformation in China
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Handbook on Transport and Urban Transformation in China

Edited by Chia-Lin Chen, Haixiao Pan, Qing Shen and James J. Wang

Since 1978, when China embarked on a new period of economic reforms and introduced open door policies, it has experienced a great urban transformation. The role of transport has proved indispensable in this unprecedented rapid urbanisation and economic growth. As the first research-focused book dedicated to this important topic, the Handbook on Transport and Urban Transformation in China offers new insight into the various opportunities and challenges brought by fast-paced motorization and urban development, and explores them in broad spatial-economic, environmental, social, and institutional dimensions.
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Chapter 18: Urban transport inequality in transition China: exploring the social inequality of commuting

Pengjun Zhao


The past decades have witnessed obvious changes in transport in China’s cities in the context of urban transformation. One of the most serious changes to policy making is the increasing urban transport inequality. This study aims to explore the facts and factors about the social inequality in commuting by looking at Beijing as a case study. The results of analysis show that low-income people have longer commuting times than middle- and high-income workers. Car travellers have much less commuting times than metro or bus travellers. Personal and household characteristics are primary factors influencing workers’ commuting times, and less commuting time is related to higher household income. The jobs–housing balance and mixed land use could reduce low-income workers’ commuting times significantly. Institutional constraints created by the hukou system, social housing and the Danwei system tend to increase low-income workers’ commuting times and worsen social inequity in transport inequity. Since these institutions are not easily changed in a short period, social inequity in transport may increase in China’s cities in the next few years. Policies designed to reduce transport inequity are hardly efficient unless these institutional constraints are solved.

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