Analysis of rural activity spaces and transport disadvantage using a multi-method approach

Md Kamruzzaman, Julian Hine

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90 Citations (Scopus)


Current knowledge about the relationship between transport disadvantage and activity space size is limited to urban areas, and as a result, very little is known about this link in a rural context. In addition, although research has identified transport disadvantaged groups based on their size of activity space, these studies have, however, not empirically explained such differences and the result is often a poor identification of the problems facing disadvantaged groups. Research has shown that transport disadvantage varies over time. The static nature of analysis using the activity space concept in previous research studies has lacked the ability to identify transport disadvantage in time. Activity space is a dynamic concept; and therefore possesses a great potential in capturing temporal variations in behaviour and access opportunities. This research derives measures of the size and fullness of activity spaces for 157 individuals for weekdays, weekends, and for a week using weekly activity-travel diary data from three case study areas located in rural Northern Ireland. Four focus groups were also conducted in order to triangulate quantitative findings and to explain the differences between different socio-spatial groups. The findings of this research show that despite having a smaller sized activity space, individuals were not disadvantaged because they were able to access their required activities locally. Car-ownership was found to be an important life line in rural areas. Temporal disaggregation of the data reveals that this is true only on weekends due to a lack of public transport services. In addition, despite activity spaces being at a similar size, the fullness of activity spaces of low-income individuals was found to be significantly lower compared to their high-income counterparts. Focus group data shows that financial constraint, poor connections both between public transport services and between transport routes and opportunities forced individuals to participate in activities located along the main transport corridors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-120
Number of pages16
JournalTransport Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Activity spaces
  • Activity-travel diary
  • Focus groups
  • Rural Northern Ireland
  • Transport disadvantage

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