For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Free Rides, Fewer Steps? Bogotá Study Examines Public Transit's Impact on Health Equity

Bogota Colombia Street Scene

May 8, 2024

A new study examining transportation policies in Bogotá, Colombia reveals important trade-offs between equitable access to public transportation and physical activity levels. Researchers found that fare subsidies boosted public transportation use, particularly among low-income residents. These subsidies, however, also decreased walking trips, reducing urban residents’ attainment of World Health Organization physical activity recommendations. This research was led by members of the Urban Health in Latin America (SALURBAL) Project, which is funded by the Wellcome Trust, and published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. Findings highlight the complex relationship between transportation policies, social equity, and individual health and emphasize the need for policymakers to consider these nuances when designing urban policies and interventions.

Public transportation plays a critical role in shaping people’s daily lives and affects our health in many ways. Transport options help determine people’s access to economic and educational opportunities and to healthcare. In rapidly growing cities of low-and-middle-income countries, public transportation is out of reach for many low-income residents. Where the cost of public transport accounts for as much as a quarter of a household’s expenditure, walking becomes a necessity, not a choice. In turn, long walking times can severely limit people’s free time to engage in leisure and health-promoting activities – such as exercising for fun or preparing healthy meals at home.

Read more at the SALURBAL website.