Many Finns have seen the amount of income at their disposal dwindle because of high transport costs to the extent that they have fallen below the official poverty line.
The European Union has adopted a union-wide definition of poverty that stipulates that individuals and households are at risk of poverty if their net income is less than 60 per cent of the median net income of wage earners in the country.
Heikki Liimatainen, the head of Transport Research Centre Verne at Tampere University of Technology, is certain that transport costs have dragged people below the poverty threshold also in Finland.
“I’d prefer not to estimate [how many], but that’s a question we’re looking into and should have some information on before the end of this year,” he said to Talouselämä on Thursday.
Liimatainen and his fellow researchers, Markus Pöllänen and Hanne Tiikkaja, published a preliminary report on transport poverty in Finland in mid-February and will continue to examine the phenomenon at Tampere University of Technology.
Their study is the first conducted into transport poverty in Finland.
Transport poverty, as it is defined in the report, affects individuals who have no access to the transport means or public transport services they require to satisfy their daily needs and maintain a reasonable standard of living.
The phenomenon also affects individuals whose disposable income falls below the poverty line after the subtraction of necessary weekly transport costs, who are forced to spend an unreasonable amount of time commuting, and whose transport environment is unsafe or unhealthy.
The report highlights that transport poverty consists of four distinct concepts: mobility poverty, transport affordability, accessibility poverty and exposure to transport externalities. The phenomenon, it adds, is also associated with a wide range of social issues such as housing, well-being and social exclusion.
The groups most vulnerable to transport poverty are low-income households, households without a motor vehicle, individuals who are either too young or too old to drive, individuals with physical or cognitive limitations, minority households, and immigrants.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi