Transport Resilience: Can residents access the services they need?

By June 1, 2021September 19th, 2021Project, Research

M. J. Anderson, D. A. F. Kiddle, & T. M. Logan (2021). The Resilience of Access to Urban Services: Hazard vulnerability, recovery, & equity. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment. (Under Review)


Although local communities urgently need to build their resilience to natural hazards, very few analytical tools exist to support them in doing so. It is well understood that equitable access to amenities is vital to community function and inherent resilience. However, to measure this we must acknowledge that access is dependent on the operability of both the road network and amenities. Within our paper, we provide an approach that simulates the impacts of hazard on the transport and amenity infrastructure before re-evaluating the distribution and equity of access. Explore our interactive results below to identify potentially disrupted or isolated communities.

This tool enables local and national governments to build equity and resilience by:

  • Guiding investment prioritization to maximize access equity and performance within pre & post hazard scenarios
  • Guiding disaster response preparedness
  • Identifying critical nodes within amenity networks (food resources, health care, etc.)
  • Identifying critical links within the transport network
  • Identifying vulnerable geographic areas and demographic groups

Explore our interactive results below

Everyday services

The geography literature tells us that community cohesion, the generation of social capital, and community sustainability is fostered by access to opportunities and resources: specifically equitable access to those opportunities (Dempsey, 2011). These everyday amenities include water, power, sanitation, and communications, but communities also require access to food, education, and health care (Winter, 1997). (While access includes dimensions of availability, acceptability, affordability, adequacy, and awareness (Penchasky 1981; Saurman 2016), we begin by considering proximity.)

Community capacity

Common to the many definitions of resilience is community capacity to anticipate, prepare, absorb, adapt, and transform. To develop these capacities, a community needs cohesion and social capital. It is therefore necessary to ensure there is equitable access to essential services. We have seen that communities without access to everyday services will simply collapse (Contreras, 2017). That is, a community without resources and the trust that arises from equitable opportunities, will struggle to develop the capacities identified as providing the foundation of resilience.


Resilience in terms of access not only supports the capacity for resilience prior to a disruption, but supports decision making during a disaster. At these times the focus of resilience shifts from the lens of capacity to that of functionality and impact. Understanding how people’s access has changed can enable emergency managers to quickly restore the access that was lost and provide temporary access to those in-need.


This thinking of resilience is outcome-based. Where infrastructure has been the focus because of traditional engineering resilience approaches (due to its critical importance in supporting everyday services) we focus on the outcomes for communities. For instance, we can explore interventions that can improve the resilience of communities, such as decentralization or infrastructure independence (e.g., solar panels or generators).

Spatial dimension

Finally, this conceptualization is spatially explicit, so resilience-enhancing decisions can be integrated into land-use planning and hazard exposure mapping.