Operationalising “Community Wellbeing” for municipal transport policy


Operationalising “Community Wellbeing” for municipal transport policy.






Prof. Karst Geurs

Daily supervisor

Dr. Anna Grigolon

PhD student

Ir. Marco van Burgsteden

The Capability Approach (CA) is an emerging concept in transport studies and is propagated as a new conceptual framework to assess the transport system, policy measures, and transport projects, based on their contribution to individuals’ opportunities, ultimately affecting their wellbeing. The focus of current operationalisations draws on the concept of accessibility and/or accessing opportunities, which is fundamental to take part in society. This approach aligns very well with initiatives to integrate Community Wellbeing (CWB) in transport policy evaluations. However, CA has been operationalised in many different ways, and the major gap in the knowledge, identified by the literature, is how to operationalise sufficient accessibility, and specifically, setting thresholds. This thesis aims to close this knowledge gap for the case of municipal transport planning in the Netherlands. It comprises four parts. Part 1 is a literature review on CA in transport research and the CA in policymaking, from which a practically applicable, integrative framework will be deducted. This is necessary to identify the conceptual specifications for policy planning tools, such as indicators, data sets, and evaluation methods. Specific attention is paid to the problem of ‘threshold setting’ for sufficient levels of accessibility. Part 2 of the thesis explores how municipal professionals evaluate these concepts by conducting qualitative and quantitative surveys, looking into both the overall perceived usability of the framework, as well as the considerations that play a part in setting thresholds for sufficient accessibility from a transport planner’s point of view. In part 3, the consistency and applicability of the total framework in different types of strategic transport planning activities are examined by observing these activities within municipalities and reflecting upon the results with the involved professionals. Part 4 will evaluate the usefulness of the framework in the more specific context of the different roles local governments have when confronted with different types of shared mobility services that are being developed.

The novelty of this research is that (1) it uses the Capability Approach to actual municipal transport planning, enabling the integration of  Community Wellbeing into transport policies, (2) it is the first study that aims to co-create thresholds for sufficient accessibility with stakeholders from the transport policy praxis, and (3) that it showcases how community wellbeing can contribute to making practitioners more aware of the broader societal effects of policy measures, specifically for shared mobility applications.