M.Sc. Thesis Project
Transport Poverty in Reykjavík, Iceland:
Service Area Analysis of Essential Services


This thesis delves into the manifestations of transport poverty and time poverty in the Greater Reykjavík area, highlighting the accessibility of essential healthcare, educational, and grocery services through various transport modes - driving, public transit, cycling, and walking. Utilizing a service area analysis with network datasets in ArcGIS Pro, the study indicates some disparities in travel times experienced by different demographic groups, with a particular emphasis on the university-eligible population. The results reveal a generally high level of accessibility across the majority of the population. Driving and cycling demonstrate the greatest coverage, while public transit and walking pose significant accessibility challenges. Notably, when considering modes other than driving, universities emerge as the hardest facilities to access, leading to a substantial portion of university-eligible being the most likely to grapple with transport poverty. The findings underscore the urgency to better accommodate university students and delve deeper into disparities experienced by more vulnerable groups, such as women and foreign-born residents. Moreover, this hopefully paves the way for a more comprehensive understanding of transport and time poverty in Greater Reykjavík, ultimately aiming to guide the creation of a more accessible, equitable, and sustainable urban environment for all residents.

Being curious about issues related to urban planning and transportation, it wasn't difficult to choose the topic for my final thesis. I wanted to look into transport poverty and how it affects my home city Reykjavík, Iceland. Transportation in Iceland's capital is heavily car-oriented, where about 73% of all trips are made by car in the city today. Having both personally experienced transportation in the city as well as having an educational background in sustainability, I sought to investigate how transport poverty manifests throughout the Greater Reykjavík area by attempting to answer the following research question: 

How is transport and access to essential services distributed across different demographics and geographies in Greater Reykjavík? 

In essence, transport poverty is predicated on Mejía Doorantes's & Murauskaite-Bull's notion that accessibility to essential services such as healthcare, education, and basic food amenities should not force individuals to choose between improving their economic situation and well-being at the expense of their time budget.

Reykjavík also offered an interesting case for this study due to its unique geographical characteristics and its urban challenges, alongside its urban sprawl, questionable public transit system, and disproportionate allocation of land for private vehicles. These challenges provided good reasons for investigating transport poverty in the city. These issues also presented an opportunity for this study to contribute to ongoing dialogues and initiatives aimed at improving the city’s urban development and transport strategies.

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