(Unedited) Podcast Transcript 325: Designing Fair Transport Systems
This week we’re joined by Karel Martens, Associate Professor of Architecture and Town Planning at Technion – Isreal Insitute of Technology. Karel talks with us about the philosophy underpinning the idea of sufficient accessibility and how he got to the idea in his book Transport Justice.
Below is a full unedited transcript:
Jeff Wood (1m 27s):
Karel Martens, welcome to the Talking Headways podcast.
Karel Martens (1m 34s):
Thank you for hosting me and to be here as
Jeff Wood (1m 36s):
Well. Thanks for joining us and thanks for sending the book along. It was a really fascinating read. I’m wondering before we get started, if you can tell us a little bit about yourself.
Karel Martens (1m 43s):
And so I’m Dutch by origin based in Israel now for the last 20 years have grown back and forth. I am an urban planner by training on it is one of the highlights of urban planning or at least perceived to be. I wouldn’t say they were successful in all domains, but certainly not doing bad. So that’s where I got my training slowly rolled into Transport to my PhD. And then when I came to Israel or that I felt very much linked to Planning of the discourse without the immigrant immunization or government, they will find me as a Transport experts. And so I follow up with the flow and that’s how I became actually a Transport planner. And that’s what I call it myself today.
Jeff Wood (2m 21s):
As you get interested in cities and Planning, was that when you were a kid or was it when you’re older?
Karel Martens (2m 26s):
And I knew that I was 16, that I wanted to be an urban planner study, urban planning, nobody around me knew what the Dutch word for urban planning meant. I don’t know how I figured out what to do. It was. I remember when I became a PZ students, there was a little a department magazine and the interview is all new PhD, each students. And I remember telling the story that I remember in kindergarten, they would build things. We have wooden cubes and I remember, or a reconstructed memory about that. I was in my perspective, very sophisticated cities and will look at my fellow kids in kindergarten. I say, well, why don’t you build anything decent? So there was something apparently in me of building cities, although I don’t think it was the work of an urban planner nowadays building and designing cities.
Karel Martens (3m 14s):
It’s really a process. That’s really a policy science and more than a design sense, but I guess that was always something in me that liked cities in creating cities.
Jeff Wood (3m 24s):
Well, you took that policy science to your book. Definitely. I imagine that’s where that came from in part for the book Transport Justice.
Karel Martens (3m 32s):
Yeah, I think in, in my PhD time, I really came to realize this urban planning is first and foremost or policy science. And so it was about what is the role of government in shaping our cities. And I took that perspective also to Transport, to fundamentally reflect on what has the role of government in shaping our transport systems. And are we really thinking about it is very carefully. And I think we don’t,
Jeff Wood (3m 56s):
What was the impetus for starting the book and for getting it going?
Karel Martens (3m 60s):
I rolled into the domain of justice, kind of by luck in a way. And I was working in an environmental simulation laboratory, but people working with models in simulation experiments, and I have no experience at all and modeling urban planning, being in a social science and in order to do something with a modeling anyway, in Transport modeling and to contribute to the field, I had to invest in events, something new and I came up with was the idea of let’s let’s think about how Transport the benefit’s. Some people are in our daughter is which, and later on I figured out I was quite some literature about it, but not that much. And certainly not in modeling are very few. So I kind of rolled into Justice and transport because of the challenges to do something new in modeling.
Karel Martens (4m 42s):
And then when I started diving into this field, I felt that Transport is very much an empirical field analyzing Transport flows, trying to understand behavior cause very rarely reflecting are what is the duty of government for the entire population? To what extent could we provide Transport to everybody or is it don’t we actually do so. And then I felt that this is really, really a topic that the records for us to leave out. And I feel like this will be my, whether they call it a niche, but I don’t think it’s a niche what I’m doing, but you know, the one is fueling what you want me to Excel and make your name. So, and then in a way that it was a luck, but if I looked back at me when I was a musician, there are quite a lot of opinions, pieces of bread pieces for the newspapers.
Karel Martens (5m 23s):
And it was already one piece where it was just, okay, that’s when it says exactly what it is in the book, Brad, you know, in a very accessible language, criticizing a government policy for, for basically ignoring a large majority of the population when they shaped Transport Systems.
Jeff Wood (5m 38s):
And that’s interesting ’cause it seems like we, you know, as a society generally focus on those empirical data-driven analysis to be the quote unquote right answer. Whereas in your book, you kind of go through and discuss an approach to thinking about Justice through these theories, right? So thinking about coal almost as a philosopher and kind of weeding pieces of philosophy out to get to a discussion about Transport versus weeding data out to get to an answer that you think is correct.
Karel Martens (6m 12s):
Well, I think data can never give the answer because the question comes from somewhere else. It doesn’t come from the data. And so only if you know how to frame the question raised, you can use the data efficiently and effectively. So I think that’s a step that lots of Transport research, trying to ignore and jumps into the data. And I was kind of data to tell us all the data can tell that a lot about behavior and by choice about different trends. But it’s kind of tell you what you shouldn’t do. What we are to do. And Transport is fundamentally and policy science is already set and it’s not only a party of science in abstract terms is basically the field of government where billions are spending public money every year and every country and where without the government, nobody can move.
Karel Martens (6m 54s):
So more than any other field, except maybe for the fence, it is very much a domain in which the government has to decide what to do at, to decide what to do as a question to you about what you all to do is not about figuring out the data what’s happening and the world. I mean, you can, of course the scribe what’s happening as well, but he won’t tell you that you had to due tomorrow. That is a question about Wil and this is a variable a future. And that is that ultimately, of course. And what has a democratic question or what kind of society do we as citizens want, but it’s also a philosophical question, the question about right and wrong. And that’s how I roll it into philosophy in if I looked back at my studies that was always interested in, in a directed by philosophy.
Karel Martens (7m 34s):
So I was happy that finally acquisite made some practical uses of it.
Jeff Wood (7m 38s):
So, you know, you come up with an idea that I think we are talking about more in the United States, which has the idea of accessibility to think about connecting people with places, rather than just things like level of service or other kind of more data-driven slash engineering focused measures. So where did your thoughts about accessibility come from and what is accessibility? Where does accessibility as you’re kind of main focus come from
Karel Martens (8m 3s):
My accessibility. He has built a term that has been around for very long, of course, in the geography or in Planning. The mobility focus in Transport has been criticized for at least for the years. I would say. So focusing on accessibility is the sets of opportunities. People can reach is in a way, nothing new, or maybe I try to develop more is thinking about it. Okay. If accessibility is so important, what level of accessibility do people deserve? And accessibility is in research, typically seen as very technical measure butt in a way its a measure of freedom fundamentally saying, you know how free Mia to do what I wanted to do tomorrow. So today I have this job, but maybe tomorrow I’m going to have another job.
Karel Martens (8m 43s):
Now only if I have a rich set of jobs and favorable they’re to look at all, consider to try to apply for a job today, I’m playing football tomorrow. I maybe want to play tennis. Now I can only this choice if you have this opportunity is available today are meeting my neighbor, but I would like to meet much more people. Well only if I can, I have access to that. I can meet them. So accessibility is fundamentally in measure of freedom, freedoms that gives direction to your own life. And so in this sense, it’s very much linked to philosophy because philosophy is very much about autonomy and freedom. I’m thinking about providing every person with the opportunity to flourish and for flourish, we need opportunity.
Karel Martens (9m 23s):
So in that sense, accessibility is much more than this technical, the terminal, which in many cases you was in Transport research and also in more and more in practice. And this is a good thing. I mean, it’s not that it’s a good measure for Transport Planning. The measure of the comes closest to the idea of freedom, much more than the freedom of the road in which of course engineer’s like to see, it’s also an essential freedom in, and it isn’t a way you have freedom to be able to move. But if we can’t get to any places, although you can free up the move, it doesn’t give you too much. And that’s why inevitably if you think about it deeper, you have to measure accessibility and not how easy can I move around? And that’s why accessibility is a key concept that should enter the transport planning and its more and more entering Transport Planning.
Karel Martens (10m 9s):
Where is often still lax is thinking not about OK, let’s increase every successability, let’s improve it as good as it is a growth curve. But thinking about who has it and who doesn’t have it fundamentally to distribute, have a question and then it becomes very difficult because they don’t have to ask, okay, so what does everybody deserve? And then it becomes really philosophy.
Jeff Wood (10m 30s):
Well, that’s interesting. So in the book you go through to find out what quote unquote sufficient accessibility is, or the general idea of finding that out. You go through three theories of Justice and that kind of frames your overall approach in the book, each of these three theories from Rawls and Walter and Dworkin paints a picture of your final discussion about what is sufficient accessibility. I want to go back into those three theories and kind of understand what each of them kind of says and what it said to you and why they matter to Justice overall.
Karel Martens (11m 5s):
So for me to make a wall, so this book, the stress of justice, it was an eyeopener because when I enter the field of Jeff Transport Justice, I started as reading philosophy. Cause we realized we can just measure the equity in some way that we won. So do they have in quite some studies in an equity and transport is very data-driven. You could say that for me, it was enough to map the differences between people. So it was really about a question, what did we owe to each other? And so I started reading lots of philosophy and philosophy tends to be a very abstract and talk about the world in a very abstract or in general terms. So we have to people and to have an abstract goods to, it has to be distributed and very sophisticated ideas of what is fairness.
Karel Martens (11m 45s):
And of course John Rawls, his theory is the most well-known one, but they didn’t really help me because they remained so abstract. And in my perspective, not relevant and not applicable to Transport and what Michael Wall sort of, it was actually saying, you know, Justin, this is not about this abstract world. It was the idea of the theory. It’s really about distributing a variety of goods that we have in society, which we value highly. And we don’t think it should be left to the markets or to random wheel who gets them and who doesn’t get them. And he then described the various fields of government where broad agreement has a merged about how good she will be distributed. And he talks about welfare and housing in the hard work.
Karel Martens (12m 26s):
It talks about political power and so forth. He didn’t talk about Transport, but for me it was first like an eye-opener, is it okay just as its not really, there is only this abstract theory to abstract theories are still very useful, but it was very much about thinking that our various good, so that people really care about and thinking how we should distribute this.
Jeff Wood (12m 46s):
Yeah. And, and to me, when I was reading what you were writing and thinking about, you know, vaults or the ideas, the idea that came to me is it kind of helps you discern what is a public utility and what is just the regular market. So you can buy any type of knife. You want to be a cooking knife and it doesn’t necessarily matter to other people. It’s not a good that you need to share with other people, et cetera. So there’s a price for it. And there’s a, you know, a supply and demand and those types of things, but there’s other goods that are a public utilities like healthcare and like Transport or electricity or even an internet. And so this was really interesting to me and that it set those things aside as something important for people that could operate, you have to think about it in a different way.
Karel Martens (13m 28s):
Yeah. He has. His Michael was a spoiler. There’s other, This, these are given as a public utilities, but the average society itself, the size that they are so important that they become public utilities. They will just say, we cannot leave this to the market. If you leave that to the markets that we create a society in, which is not as a society we want. And that’s why health care when we didn’t know too much about illnesses and cure it, it wasn’t really an issue. We also didn’t have the money, but as soon as, as modern medicine became really effective people realize it, health is very important. And so also health care becomes important. The next year, the U S is of course the notable exception on the general agreements, a worldwide, I would say that healthcare should be provided to all and of course, many countries.
Karel Martens (14m 9s):
So in terms of it means to deliver it, but they will agree to that principal in the U S is the notable exception to my regret.
Jeff Wood (14m 16s):
I want universal healthcare. Let’s just say that right now.
Karel Martens (14m 22s):
So in a way, Transport, it was always a public utility in a way streets were always collective. I mean, from the first development of human history, you know, when people were living in a house or a case, I don’t know what, and we jointly created our paths. We just walked on the same path. And this was when our roads and his, of course evolves. And the, when we started building city’s streets, we’re a public good center. We were maintained either jointly or everybody has to contribute his own time to roads. But I was no issue with distribution because basically everybody walks. They are very few Board people with horses and carriages. And so there was no issue of some people having super about accessibility in the artists virtually no those people on the horses didn’t shape Cindy size or a city structure is what are the people are walking cause they were the vast majority, 90% or more.
Karel Martens (15m 16s):
And so since everybody could walk or mostly walk, it didn’t emerge as an issue. Transport was there accessibility. It was given for most people. And only when actually we started introducing Or emoter as a means of transport difference in between population groups. I started to emerge and this happened actually quite late. I mean, in the beginning it was mass Transport. There was a trolley averse, a horse pools, the trams trains at a very cheap, very accessible often also offered it as a subsidy. But anyway, even in the early days because developers wanted to attract developments, there were two new plots of land. And when the welfare state involved, it was still, no issue is certainly in the Europe currently.
Karel Martens (15m 57s):
So it was Lowe. People can reach you by walking public transportation or recycling at the destinations. And So in my perspective, Transport, missing the boat out of the welfare States, it was never a perceived as a welfare States element because it was no issue where that wasn’t issue in education. And everybody’s got a good education. Only the elite health care. If we didn’t ensure every body, even the elite will have difficulty to get is expensive operations. So that was clear that you need to do something, but transform. It is not an issue in the welfare state. It was built and is for me, one of his explanations of why we developed a Transport governance system that is completely different from the other domains of education, healthcare housing, which are in many countries and certain European countries and built on principles of justice
Jeff Wood (16m 42s):
After a while it, sir, you get to the roles and you think about accessibility improvements and how they benefit people overall. And so in here you wrote accessibility improvements, benefit everyone until the network has built out. However, access improvements that benefit the rich group. Aren’t equitable because over time land use as a, just in the service of the rich are pushing out the poor from access. So once you build these Transport networks, you have basically this kind of bifurcation of the distribution of land as well because people are buying up land near Transport. And I found that very interesting as part of that discussion and the roles section of the book.
Karel Martens (17m 19s):
So if you’re talking about justice, you, you can not avoid. Ross is considered as the most important to a philosopher as a justice of the 20th century. And so you have to relate is a theory developed a theory for abstract goods, also a limited set of goods. So it does talk a little bit of education, but basically it’s about basically a rise in freedoms. And it’s about in Commonwealth. These are the most important goals and opportunities to go to jobs. And you’d be able to put a beautiful a framework in which you can actually balance This various goods. ’cause the, of course in Justice is we want it all. And if we won’t be wealthy, would you like to give everybody everything right? But it doesn’t work like this because that scarcity and just as only you merge is because there is scarcity and the first place, because we desire something and we can’t have it at all.
Karel Martens (18m 6s):
And not every one of us and not everybody can have everything. And so roles men has to build up a framework that actually managed to balance freedom, some basic freedoms of speech of organization, of religion, with the restrictions on how income and wealth are distributed. But the moment you start adding a good two rolls theory, it, it becomes very difficult to say, well, do I want to have an eye on income? I don’t want to improve my accessibility. And that’s where the theory it didn’t help me anymore and say, okay, yeah, you want both, but I don’t know what I can text. The reach is more to give the poor more accessibility or actually more income. It becomes very unclear.
Karel Martens (18m 46s):
And so be, it becomes only a political decision. And so it didn’t give me, this is the direction towards a principal of justice for Transport. And that’s where, I mean, the dynamic you describe about slowly bifurcation happening and the wealthy are getting more and more accessibility in the poorer or less because the land you started organizing ran the dominant the means of transport that it happens. But the question is whether that’s a problem and had, and rolls theory, couldn’t give me an answer. After a certain point, I go to a certain point. Okay. Yes. It still makes sense to make this straight over then after a certain point was anymore. And so in a way I was left, empty handed is analyzing roles theory. I’m trying to apply on the other end rolls theory of so much that it gets you all kind of building blocks about thinking about justice, about reasoning, about justice, about a fundamental idea of which I find very enriching is that Justice is something we all feel very strongly about.
Karel Martens (19m 38s):
And the classical a story about it, a little kids go on to kindergarten and telling this is mine and her brother is from the home and or you get a bigger piece of the cake or you’ve got to Kenya is the only one we feel very deeply about fairness at the end. The default is equality. And so what’s the role since we have this intuition is about Justice and they are more sophisticated at what a child’s in kindergarten has. And it has enabled us actually to figure out what are reasonable principles of justice. So we can on the one hand develop philosophy and then we can share it is with people who didn’t go through this argument and see where that makes sense to them. And if it doesn’t make sense that we can educate the people to some extent as, and challenge them to reconsider, consider the intuitions that may lead to a change.
Karel Martens (20m 22s):
But we should also go back to our theory and reconsider reconsidered a theory and see if he can come up with the proposal that his more in line with the intuitions. And so that idea of coming to a reflective equilibrium has called in roles perspective. It is very useful thing. So you never think about principles of Justice in vehicle, and this is really figuring out how much you can justify and then checking whether it fits to the intuitions of people. And I think in the end of the sufficiency of I come up with is so intuitive, as you can say, well, what did this guy spend this 10 years working on his book? For sure.
2 (20m 54s):
Jeff Wood (20m 57s):
Yeah, it is. If you think about it, but at the same time, I do appreciate that you went through the steps of figuring out what would work and what might not work. I mean, the discussion of rolls is frustrating just because you do see these things that you think should apply to Transport, but in the end, like you say, it doesn’t quite fit into an overall kind of transportation planning function. Right. If it works as an equity discussion as a Justice discussion, but, and at the end, I was actually frustrated reading the book. You’re like, well, it doesn’t quite work out. And I was like, well then why did I read that last year?
2 (21m 34s):
I never thought about that. And I know that it would have to ride a Buddhist for accessible and that doesn’t make it too long for lots of a cool story about that.
Jeff Wood (21m 40s):
And I appreciate it though. Like I, you know, it just really, I was like, what the hell man?
Karel Martens (21m 47s):
And, you know, reading Walter, and then thinking more systematically about roles made me realize this role as a theory is another universal theory of justice. It basically developed a very, very powerful argument for only three domains. Our three spheres and Micah was, he would say the spheres of basic rights and freedoms, the sphere of opportunity you have jobs and the first three, or is that of income and wealth and roles fury, although it’s very, very broad and very, very powerful. I think doesn’t go for it in that it doesn’t tell us really what we ought to each other in a healthcare and education. And certainly not in Transforce, which doesn’t make his contribution to philosophy less impressive.
Jeff Wood (22m 28s):
Yeah. Well then we get to the desert Island, which I was, I was interested in that too. And keep thinking about it. Does it Island top fives or, you know, music you’d listened to, but actually it’s the distribution of goods. If you get to it, it does. And all of these folks have interesting catchphrases as it were. You have the, the, the veil of ignorance. You have the desert Island, you have all of these things that Dworkin has a desert Island to auction. Or can you explain that a little bit more?
Karel Martens (22m 52s):
So to walk in, we want to think about what will it be a fair distribution of goods in a few States preferences just play a stronger role in that it feels it, the preference has been an underplayed in a way in thinking about Justice and mostly also in the role of his perspective. And so he created a thought experiment in which people watch it on an uninhabited Island and rather than hitting each other on their head, which most people would likely started doing or some percentage and trying to grab as much of the Island as possible. He assumes that his ship wrecks survivor’s are actually a reasonable people. And I sit down and think about how they will share the goods they find on the Island, which you belong to nobody. And it was really an inhabited Island.
Karel Martens (23m 32s):
And so they sit down and they say, okay, let’s do the default. And let’s give everybody the same amount of candies are in this example, coconuts in pineapples, let’s say everyday, well, there’s enough to have five coconuts or five pineapples for, but the one that is being distributed at the first one, or does the second day, some person steps up and it says, I know I get five of these as well. All of those like you do, but as you would like pineapples, I never like pineapples. And so we really don’t have the same as you have. Although we had the same number, my preferences are and not served as well as your preferences. And so I think this is a very unfair, and we should think about a different system of distributing the coconuts, pineapples, which we have on the Island and people sit down and again, I think very carefully and they come up there with the auction ID, which basically says, okay, we give everybody shells, which you find on the beach, and these are worthless.
Karel Martens (24m 25s):
Nobody wants to show you how she kind of to eat M you can’t build the house from them. You cannot wear them. We give everybody’s the same, which has kind of their resources, that basic resources. So everybody starts out is life on the islands. You have the same set of resources, and we are just resources that can be fit for what it is really valuable to go, go nuts in the pineapples. And so in this bidding process, people can then offer for what I prefer the most. And obviously if you don’t like pineapples, so you will offer a more for the coconuts and vice versa. And depending on how the preference is are, are distributing in the population on the Island, coconuts might be more expensive or pineapples. And so if you have a preference that’s most peoples share, or you will have less goods that, so let’s say coconuts are more expensive than you like coconuts.
Karel Martens (25m 6s):
So you said having 10 fruits, you will only have eight. And the one that likes by an Apple will have 12 pineapples and to walk in and say, this is fair because first of all, everybody started adding to the scene, a set of resources. So, you know, we started it equally and you are freely entered into this bargain and this one, and you came out with him. And second, if you look at your neighbor, do you really want 12 pineapples? So you didn’t like pineapples, right? So you wouldn’t. So you have no real reason to enter your neighbor and no reason to bid for this. If you really want to add that, you could do it for that. So we can do it all over again. Now let’s see if you do it again. Now you wouldn’t. And so we say, as long as its end of the three, and so it’s a fair distribution. And so inequality can be fair.
Karel Martens (25m 48s):
As long as it’s, there are different preferences and starts from a situation that equality, equality of resources, but the whole Island store is a little bit of a gimmick. I would say for a more fundamental ID of insuring yourself against all kinds of forms of bad luck. So what is a more hungry than you are? And I actually in these 15 fruits, and you can survive on five. And if you started at the same set of resources, you are better off than me because I have to purchase 15 and you are only five. We can then think about all kinds of insurance schemes to protect ourselves against this risk of being very hungry person or being disabled, being more or less productive. And he develops all kinds of insurance schemes and those insecure schemes kind of help me to construct my scenarios for Transport in a way I think it was very useful for me, I think is very boring to talk about it.
Karel Martens (26m 38s):
Although I tend to do it, if my courses to explain, you know, okay, now let’s imagine that people have watched up on the islands and its not this idyllic Island of Only Palm trees. And now it was Hong Kong Island. I always show a picture of Hong Kong islands except at Hong Kong islands without any people. So we know where the destinations are, just so we know where we want to be. ’cause he wants to know where it wants to be aware of this and this is our employment fun. And now you have to choose where to live. So a location to purchase a house, to go chase, safe, money for trips and so forth. And then I started the whole auction scheme to develop what is a Fair metropolitan system. You can see the trends.
Jeff Wood (27m 15s):
Yeah. So you pulled all of the three together and there were some that were, and some that don’t and you took the auction slash insurance scheme idea and kind of move that forward using some of the principles of the other one’s as well. I mean general Justice principles,
Karel Martens (27m 30s):
Especially the, the, the veil of ignorance of John roles. Of course. So the idea is that the people are watching the Apple Hong Kong Island and having to think about, you know, who can live were and what kind of Transport system to create on that Island. And they are sitting behind the veil of ignorance. It means they have to agree on how the world will look like without knowing who they will be in the real world. So when a veil of ignorance is lifted, people have to start living in the world. They create it based on the rules, they decided upon behind a veil of ignorance, they sit behind the curtain they discussed, what are the world’s should it look like if they agree the veil is lifted and then I have to live according to those rules and they cannot be changed.
Karel Martens (28m 10s):
And so it just means, you know, you have to be very, very careful. So role’s theories all about the risk of audience. It’s really about fundamentally shaping a world in which you can agree to live no matter who you will be dead. Basic notions is also the in translate it in my book, too Transport. So you have to design the Transport system and you guys, so you agreed to live with it, knowing that you might be the one who doesn’t own a car who is disabled, who has a low income, but you know, you want to visit your grandmother and your children and you want to have a job and go to the supermarket and visit your church, maybe go to the beach every now and then what system would you create? We are not in a system we have now a days clearly not. It could be in a different system.
Jeff Wood (28m 47s):
And so that getting to all of those places, circles around and back again to our questions about accessibility, to sufficient accessibility and what that actually is, you know, I’m curious, you talked about also a person accessibility versus place accessibility. What is the importance of the agency of a person versus a place or a person being able to access things instead of just a place of being able to access a place?
Karel Martens (29m 8s):
Well, from a perspective of justice is, is fundamentally about people. So places don’t have rights if we don’t give them a ride to vote. If we don’t give them the rights to be serviced in a certain way, we give people rights. And so thinking about the accessibility from a Justice perspective, as fundamentally about thinking from the person, how easy can it be? The person to get to a range of places. And there is a first and most important standards of justice. Now it becomes more complex when you start planning the real world context. ’cause if you want to think about where I’m going to put my hospital after you make a decision about is a place and a lot about people is implicitly and indirectly decided who can receive the hospital and who cannot. And so translate in the sufficient accessibility principal, which applies to all of the persons.
Karel Martens (29m 50s):
Living in a region has to be translated into how I make my hospital accessible for different people. But different means of transport is a probably also effects the location because it technically a difficult issue. I would say it to figure it out. And especially because we got to have a Fair system. So it’ll be, it’ll be difficult to imagine at the current situation, no matter where I put it in the hospital, I want to find any location that it provides everybody. You have sufficient accessible to them, the hospital. So it was actually one of the things that I didn’t solve at all. So in my teaching, I, at the end of the lectures, I a chorus, I want to get to that. And so I was finally sets, you know, or how do you decide about where to locate? What are your demand from an employer, a hospital or a school,
Jeff Wood (30m 29s):
And also in the discussion of the philosophies. And when you get to the discussion about designing a Transport system, you come up with an idea to draw a chart where you look at accessibility and you find that certain areas where accessibility levels are so low, that directly limit the possibility of a person to participate in a broad range of activities, becomes an issue. You have a general accessibility, and then you have a low level of accessibility. You have your high level of accessibility, but you should be Designing the transport system to get the people who don’t have as much access, more access. Whereas the people at the top who have, you know, amazing amounts of access, they don’t need a lot to help. Correct.
Karel Martens (31m 6s):
And so, first of all, let’s say that the whole auctions scheme comes up with it. If, if I’m sitting behind a veil of ignorance and I have to design a Transport system, and I don’t know what I will be, Rachel, poor, healthy, or not born in a rural town or in a city highly-educated or not. I don’t know all of these things. I would never accept the transport system that doesn’t give me sufficient accessibility, because if it doesn’t give me a sufficient, it means it is insufficient. It means insufficient. I can’t get to the places they want to get to me. It doesn’t give me the freedom to give direction to my life. Philosophers would say so I can not choose the job I’d want to go to if I might be lucky, if you live in a small town where it was one employer and I might work there, but if he closes down and a lot of work, so it, it doesn’t give me sufficient accessibility to the certainty that I can actually have a flourishing life over a long time.
Karel Martens (31m 53s):
And so that’s basically why you kind of out of ignorance, he will not agree to anything less than sufficient accessibility. Now that in terms of physical accessibility, at least two terms, quite undefined. So one is accessibility, but you can measure in many, many ways. And I don’t think there’s a perfect way to measure accessibility except to say, you should measure how easy it is to get to places how affordable it is and whether it’s a relatively convenient to get to places. And two, a range of places. It’s not about your current job, your current purpose that you like to go to a it’s really about the range of places. ’cause your life change is all the time. The other term that is vague is sufficient. What is sufficient basically that is in a way of political is not merely an empirical to him.
Karel Martens (32m 38s):
So we have lots of partly in the us more than in the UK, especially about the relationship between accessibility and social exclusion, where we feel that people who have very poor access to cars or to high quality public transport systems are excluded as for many, many activities in the us. Also, there is lots of research showing you the connection between know accessibility and low employment, welfare payments, but also social isolation, lower health care uptake in the us. There is literature on food deserts. So you don’t get your health, your nutrition. So we, we know there’s a connection with between accessibility and having a flourishing life, which includes employment, seeing family and friends, being able to, by your foods you need and so forth.
Karel Martens (33m 22s):
But we don’t know exactly the empirical connections. There’s not been much studies’ to say, you know, okay, if you have this amount of accessibility, well, then you are really doing fine. But if it drops below a certain level, you’re ready as at risk. So we know if you have very low, you are clearly at risk. And if you’re, you know, yeah, if you have a car and he lives somewhere in the city, the core city, you’re doing fine. And if you have a sufficient income to run the car, but we don’t know where the tipping point is. And I don’t think we can ever find a tipping point. It will be a vague scale. At some point you see more and more people struggling to get to the places that need to get to. So they will never be a perfect point that this is no different from income in a domain of income.
Karel Martens (34m 2s):
You no, there is a poverty line and we all know the poverty line is defined based on a set of criteria, an assessment of what is the cost to buy a certain basket of goods that everybody needs. But at some places they will be more expensive and our ads will be cheaper. Some persons manage to do with a very little money and our people need much more. They’re more hungry than eat more medicine or whatever the family and friends live further away. So they need more gasoline or more bus tickets. So it’s a rough indicator and that ultimately is a political decisions. So we have input, we know a little bit about the income we know about the costs of living and based on this, we have an income levels. We can do it exactly the same for Transport. It’s just a matter of collecting the evidence.
Karel Martens (34m 43s):
And in setting up a way to decide about is level in a political way. And clearly politics may play a role. So certain parties may put us up and they will like to be generous. And are, I think we shouldn’t be so generous. We can, it can be lower. It’s really sufficient if it’s at this level and yes, live, it’s not that great, but it was good enough. And so that is a sufficiency line. Now that the fundamental point of the book, I would say the most fundamental point is that if you agree that this, I think intuitively appealing principal of sufficient accessibility. So the sufficiency as a principal of, of justice for distributing Transport services and the whole world changes. So the whole world Transport changes because the moment you say sufficiency is what counts is what I have to deliver as a government, two, everybody, it doesn’t matter where the line is.
Karel Martens (35m 31s):
Exactly. You will figure out no matter how low you put it out, that there are millions of people who don’t get enough. And my first and foremost obligation is to give them enough because that’s what we owed to each other. That’s what we agree upon behind a veil of ignorance. And so at the moment, you agreed to sufficiency principle, you have to change your entire perspective of looking at Transport. What, what is my duty? But my duty is not anymore to the people who are high up on that accessibility letter. We can take old people in a metropolitan region and we can measure the accessibility. And it doesn’t really matter. How are we exactly measure that? As long as you use, this is the medic, the same way for each person. And we will clearly see a ranking rights.
Karel Martens (36m 12s):
And so if we live in the middle, in the core city, in the city center and you are wealthy and you have a car and you can afford the parking and you can ride public transport and you can take a taxi at any time, you like it, you are on the top, right? And if you live further out and you have a car, are you might still be doing well. If you don’t have a car, you are really, really bad off. But actually if you live even in the city, or certainly just in the first ring around the core Citi, and you don’t have a car, even in European cities, by the way, you are very, very poorly served and you are quickly below the sufficiently line. And so we can rank people. And then we say, Oh, well, my challenge has changed fundamentally, where it is, of course in too many cities is either congestion is a problem.
Karel Martens (36m 53s):
And we have to address congestion or are there is an area we’re creating therapy for climate change and pollution. And we have to do something about it. The fundamental challenge is now that we have people that have served well are below what we think they deserve and we should improve this situation for them. So that’s a radically different perspective and it’s actually congestion of Emirates as a problem. In most cases, it’s not all cases. Okay? It depends. It’s an empirical question, but most people in congestion are in congestion because it’s the fastest way from a, to be there or not a congestion. ’cause this is the worst choice they can make. This is the best choice. And this means that if this was the best choice is made by a person who has a car who is able to afford that car and run it next to that person will live.
Karel Martens (37m 39s):
Fortunately, in our neighborhoods, not everywhere in the us. We have a strong income segregation in most places to somebody who doesn’t own a car, you, it doesn’t have the choice. You won’t see them on that road, but he is actually the person who is really suffering from insufficient accessibility. It’s unlikely is a person with a car and will have done. And maybe it’s the very edge of the metropolitan region. You will find people who have a car with insufficient accesibility and you have to find them. But if there is not course by a poor transport system is because of a lack of land use as well.
Jeff Wood (38m 9s):
That was great because it gets to this point and the point of the book in that radically changing, the way that you look at how to solve transportation issues is looking at people and their needs rather than problems to solve. Right? So problems like congestion problems, like the environment, you know, thinking about people first is what I got out of reading the book. And it’s interesting to think about when you think about environmental problems and you’re trying to them, and we do want to target them because they are important, especially in this age of climate change, but it makes you focus on things that you don’t want to focus on. So if you’re targeting congestion or you’re targeting environmental issues, you’re actually talking more about the car then you want to be talking about and what you need to be talking about.
Jeff Wood (38m 53s):
And what I learned from the book is that you need to be talking about population groups, people in certain segments of society that need to have more accessibility rather than targeting the segment of a road that’s congested, or, you know, the need to reduce particulate matter, which I think is important. But by solving the people problem, I think you get to solve all of the problems.
Karel Martens (39m 14s):
Let me take this to problems to take all them separately. So congestion in nurse as the main problem, because Transport as a field of research and all of a government practice evolved from other engineering disciplines, the other engineering disciplines were basically in a way a very progressive, so the emergence at the end of 19th century and what was the same electricity Systems, Seward systems and the engineer’s are very, very ambitious, is a very progressive to the city’s. We are very polluted than they saw in these new technologies. The opportunity to make lives better. And their ID was just to build Systems and connect to each and every person too, that system. And that’s why they did, or the way we did as a society that at least the most places and the Transport engineers to get to the same idea, we have this wonderful new technologies called a car.
Karel Martens (39m 60s):
We combined it with the other wonderful new concept called a highway, great separated highway. And the only challenge is we have, it was just connecting everybody to this wonderful new road system, and then they can connect to the system just like they can open the water tap and everybody is served and not sure that they are entirely believe it is, but there’s so many how we designed our system is just a matter of rolling out a road over the entire country. That’s what happens without any consideration of what we’ll do Today, which is a cost-benefit analysis. We wouldn’t have built many of the highways we built out in faraway places where til today the demand is to low, to justify a road. According to this cost benefit principle.
Karel Martens (40m 41s):
Well, we didn’t have the same engineering, progressive perspective. This is a new technology and we should connect to everybody to it. Now that works in electricity and water and sewerage. This is the word for Transport, right? If you have water in the home, a kid of two years old can open it to him and closer to him. And with some care they can also use electricity pretty young after potty-training the title of it is also available for you. It doesn’t work like as in Transport and the system will never serve everybody. But that’s thinking of, of, of having a system that works basically calculating the volumes that my system has to send from a to B, whether it’s electricity or water or sewerage dead philosophy is still, is so ingrained in this Transport engineering principle.
Karel Martens (41m 22s):
That, so that’s how they look at the system. And congestion is a failure, like a black house, electricity as a failure, but that is a wrong measure of failure in a Transport system because your system not important, having a working system doesn’t guarantee that people have accessibility, even free flowing traffic doesn’t guarantee that everybody has accessibility go to very remote places where you are always a free floating traffic and, you know, get anywhere. And that’s not really, we want to offer people are Transport is all about just getting to the destinations. And so that was the congestion part. Is this still stuck in the engineer and perspective, starting from a very good intentions or delivering the best possible systems to everybody.
Karel Martens (42m 5s):
And the thing to realize that the system can never serve at anybody and politically there was also a raised, I dunno, in the U S but anyway, in the Netherlands and also in Israel, I no, in the UK, there was mostly social Democrats, politicians saying the car for every family that was a vision. And have everybody had a car, Transport problems were solved, but just have to build the roads system. And the wife did in the comments because they’re in the car. I was, of course for the men that are going to work back on the day. Yeah, exactly. And children were invisible apparently or where, or just in the temporary timeframe, you know, about to be adults to drive cars, but even adults, even in the U S we didn’t get to the level of that.
Karel Martens (42m 46s):
Everybody has cars that are expensive. They’re in parents, not everybody likes driving. People are scared of driving in a metropolitan area like Los Angeles, 20% of adults that doesn’t have access to a car. And one in five at all, steps in a normal amount, in a wealthy country, we didn’t manage to get there. We will never get there. That would be a fundamental starting point. And if you realize that your suit, I start from people and ask is everybody is served by the Transport system. And so congestion might still be a problem. But in many cases, those in congestion are so much better than those who kind of enjoy congestion. And to know they have access to the car and to use public transport, or sometimes they can use a bicycle or, and so forth.
Karel Martens (43m 28s):
So there is a congestion, Bart congestion. We might lead to insufficient AccessAbility, but if it doesn’t, it’s not a problem, its annoying it’s unpleasant. And also sometimes it congestion. It is a very annoying, I like free flowing traffic myself if I drive. But if it’s something as annoying as, and I don’t have a reason to pull a lot of public money into it. And certainly now that you realized all the damage, of course, that has been done because of increasing road capacity. Now that, that part of the story. So congestion, you can really park or only if it’s the same insufficient AccessAbility we have to address this otherwise. No. If people want to, by the way, out of the ingestion, by financing a separate lane, we might consider if it doesn’t do too much damage, no.
Karel Martens (44m 10s):
And I have to go to the other of them is this climate, but not the only climate. I think just talking about climate is already distancing as educators, people who design a transport system for many people who set for my smartphone pollution, it may be directly from climate change at all. So it is as far as the population groups are of course more affected by climate change in a more advanced Brooks. Because if you read about it, you can always find your way out and move to the better places. But a So environment broadly, not the only climate change, local pollution is a very important, but it’s not a goal of Transport. Transport has one goal. It’s enabling people to get to a destination. So if you’re focus on the environment, you lose sight of that goal.
Karel Martens (44m 51s):
So it’s a condition. And for me, the conditions will be much tighter. It should say, okay, we’ve really have to deliver it within this pollution level. With, in this climate, Go deliver sufficient accessibility to own it it’s a condition, but it is not a Go. But if you define it as a girl, you lose track of actually measuring whether everybody is served. And it’s very important to realize. And I think I’ve said it was already at the beginning. There is nobody, there is no such thing as private transport’s. So we, we like to think of, we have our own Carr and maybe our own bi-cycle in the Netherlands. That’s where we are and became over the road. And that’s why we are independent. And there is a VF our own private Transport, but we are all fundamentally dependent on a collective investments.
Karel Martens (45m 34s):
There is no such thing as somebody that can be entirely in private land moves from a to B. It has been a very short periods in history. This is Rhodes for built a based on, on tolls or those companies went bankrupt. It didn’t work. It was highly problematic. The only way to actually get from a to B is having a collective investment, which we usually ask the government to do on behalf of us. And so we, we are all depends on the government and they, what the government has been doing is saying, you know, we know we are responsible for the government for Transport. That’s actually the only for a small group of people. So we don’t have this duty for people who don’t express the mounds in a willingness to pay in a value of time.
Karel Martens (46m 16s):
If they cannot express, there is a mound, are there a desire to get to a place in actual demand? They don’t exist in. So it’s something that is so fundamentally public where everybody is dependent on each other is actually only made available to not a small group of the people, of course, the vast majority. And that makes it so attractive politically, right? So you can ignore the 20 10%. This is not being served because there are anyway, but physically now is a very powerful that obviously that’s not how a good government will work.
Jeff Wood (46m 42s):
All right. Are you talking about cost benefit analysis a little earlier? You know, one of the things that I’ve found interesting in your discussion as well was the discussion about cost benefit analysis for say it, a transit project. And you know, when you do that and when you look at the costs and then the benefits, the benefits, aren’t always, if you aren’t looking at it from a people perspective, you get off track because when you’re looking at a low-income person’s wage and the time saved in your measuring, the time saved for that person, that low wage and the time saved, makes it unequal from a high wage earner, you know, thinking about the disconnect between those things. And so it really made me think like, why are we doing these cost benefit analysis when you’re actually discounting some of the value of people generally, just because of the wages that they make and the use
Karel Martens (47m 30s):
Of a cost benefit analysis. That is something very, very surprising in a way you could say, if you, if you’re really taking a step back. And so it’s, it’s a branded for two reasons. One is because we are talking here about government investment and the government steps in which the market doesn’t do, its job we want is actually the government. And does it use as a cost benefit analysis? It’s just kind of a proxy for what the market does. And Margaret Wood provide a good, if the costs are lower than what I can earn by it and preferably optimize the profits, right? So basically what the government’s doing is exactly the same. So we were a government and we can act differently. Then the markets we usually active in the market because we think that Margaret is not doing a good job on a certain domain and then a domain where, you know, market can deliver any goods except the government because no market or ever provide growth, railway lines, even airports, I wonder.
Karel Martens (48m 24s):
And certainly flight songs have to be also bargains with all of the people living below. So we need a government for this. And so we ultimately need a government. The government are just using a market as principal and only if it lived up to the market’s principal is delivering the goods. I was in a weird to do as the government. Wouldn’t we be more logical than I am a government for the entire population. Shouldn’t I serve everybody well, shouldn’t it be about not, well, you can pay with the weather, you need it. That will be for me a very logical way to look at it, but we’ve gotten so ingrained in an economic perspective, that’s a cost benefit. And as far as just the obvious way to go out, there is some kind of like public goods perspective.
Karel Martens (49m 6s):
And there’s a philosophical perspective. Cost benefits analysis is a practical tools that came from a utilitarian perspective on justice. Now that was developed or late 18th century, if you want to do well in the meal amongst others in Benton. And it was radically progressive for lots of you where it was introduced, what it says, the greatest code for the greatest number of, and that principle Applied in the late 18th century basically would mean if you give something to the poor, that would be very beneficial because there were so many poor, there was a very tiny group of people doing well. So any investment or the government go into the tiny group doing a very, very well.
Karel Martens (49m 48s):
We were in generate much the benefits. I mean, thousands of people at times, or a $1 is only a thousand dollars. Now, if I have something in general is only 10 cents for millions of people and generates more benefits. And so utilitarianism was it raised in a way in a progressive philosophy is saying, you know, we should look at everybody and looking at everybody meant also looking as a majority pool of people and we should act what serves the majority. Well, now this works very well in society is mostly poor people because it will work to the benefits of the poor. But basically what the rule does is it works to the benefit of the majority. So in that time is with the poor. And so it was radically progressive theory, but if you still Applied till today, then the majority is middle income and higher income.
Karel Martens (50m 35s):
And so anything that you do for a middle and higher income, we will always work out better than what you will do for the 10 to 15% and fourthly. We have a relatively small group of people that are poor, well, never deliver so many benefits as much as you do for a well-off and certainly not have your value their to do in a time differently. If we take into account that it may be longer trips, or they can save more time on each trip, if you take out the car to make more trains, because they have more places to go to spend your money on. So they are all kind of detailed affects to, but the fundamental ideas that utilitarianism is not really a theory of Justice, it doesn’t really care about the people. It doesn’t take everybody seriously. So if the people are already rich to gain more than those who are a very poor Luiz, it is considered just in utilitarian is enough intuitively.
Karel Martens (51m 23s):
I think most people would agree that doesn’t make my sense in most cases. And so because benefits analysis fails on two, as it is based on the philosophy that it’s highly problematic. And it was basically telling the government will behave as if it’s the marketplace, whereas for providing your public goods was just bizarre. And there’s a third of the problem with the cost benefit analysis. That is, it tends to is that it does it relate to the goal if you want to achieve. So if your goal is to achieve sufficient accessibility and you, you use a cost benefit analysis, what may come out is an investment that hardly improves the situation of people that have very low accessibility. It comes out much better because we can all kind of benefits and may be climate changed, local air pollution, Noyes.
Karel Martens (52m 6s):
And so I had to go and it just, isn’t a pepper it’s well, I’m a client and the cost benefits of that others because the total is the grand total. It is more important than might go. And if you will do it as if we do not promote a fairer transport system, that you will not be considered that at all. So once you do this selection first, then you can maybe do cost benefits analysis. Cause then as your goal has said and everything you choose, we will achieve that goal. And maybe some projects will do it more efficiently, more benefits against lower cost. That is fine with me. We should be efficient and we should spend our money very carefully. But if we should spend it very carefully on the go, we want to achieve transport projects are not generating money. They are providing access. That’s why you should measure in a developed country and they do not strengthen the economy.
Karel Martens (52m 51s):
If you want to strengthen your economy, there are thousands ways in which it can do a much better than by a wasting billions all improve in your transport system. That is not how it was worth.
Jeff Wood (53m 1s):
Awesome. Well, so the book is Transport Justice. Where can folks find it anywhere?
Karel Martens (53m 5s):
A library you can find in the course of the website of the, of the publishers, but also that you can order it in the local bookshops. I know that you like to promote it. I also strongly your program has a wonderful scheme. Now, if you order online line, the local shop, so benefits it.
Jeff Wood (53m 19s):
Yeah. Yeah. A bookshop.org. Hear in the U S if you want to get the book, go to the bookshop.org or on your local bookshop, which he would have picked up the, or order the book from this way. My book store is called folio books. I used to walk over there and say, Hey, can I get this book? And I showed them a picture on my phone or whatever, and they would order it for me. And then it goes through them, which is, you know, supports my local business, but it’s not like going a larger chains that, you know, aren’t supporting a local economy. So yeah. Book, shop.org for now. And then when you get out of pandemic, go to your book shop, or exactly a meat people will Karel. Thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it.
3 (53m 56s):
Thanks a lot