Last April, I talked about Transportation for All as one of my goals in choosing to advocate one transportation policy or critique another. Jarrett introduced the term mobility, which seems to fit a little better with what I'm aiming for. But now Jarrett comes along with access, which may fit even better.
Jarrett writes, "Mobility is how far you can go in a given time. Access is how many useful or valuable things you can do." They're clearly connected: you can have minimal mobility and minimal access, like the Count of Monte Cristo in the Château d'If, or you can have maximal mobility and maximal access, like Rick Steves. However, mobility and access are not the same thing at all: you can have minimal mobility and maximal access, like Neo in the Matrix, or you can have maximal mobility and minimal access, like Charlie on the MTA.
When we think about the public welfare justifications for transportation subsidies, it is clear that their goal is access, not mobility. As a society founded on equal opportunity, we find it unjust for certain people to be restricted in the jobs they can have, the places they can live, and the stores they can shop at, through no fault of their own. It may be because they cannot drive due to disability, because they cannot afford a car or gas, or because they cannot even afford to ride the bus or train.
That is the main reason we have subsidized transit. The benefits to society in the form of decreased pollution, more efficient use of energy, safer streets and greater social cohesion are often forgotten by those who fund transit.
The only problem I have with the phrase "access for all" is that it's already the name of a long-established Dutch internet provider.