Freedom of movement is one of the fundamental principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN, 1948) in order to provide access to basic necessities such as healthcare and education, and participate in socio-economic activities to achieve decent standards of living. However, in practice, differences in the ability and capacity to travel exist. These differences of mobility inequality can be attributed to (1) individual characteristics (age, gender, disability or income); (2) the spatial factors and geographical context (location, distance, or urban configurations); (3) institutional factors (the planning system and transport infrastructures and services); (4) the socio-cultural constructs (norms and values attached to travel activities) and (5) potential and realized accessibility in public or private spaces within a city as a result of the aggregation effect of mobility (Yamu et al., 2020). The interplay of these factors can either enhance or limit individual transport mobility options and create and maintain mobility inequalities and lead to social exclusion for vulnerable and marginalized groups (i.e., the elderly or the poor).

The current Covid-19 pandemic exacerbates social inequalities and, of course, mobility inequalities. The latter are specifically harmful as they affect a large swath of society and can hamper the ability to access daily needs in the short-term, the loss of socio-economic opportunities in the mid- term or even intergenerational poverty in the long-term in an automobile-oriented society.

It seems pretty clear that we are continually learning about and engaging with persistent inequalities that are a consequence of the global tryst with neo-liberalism (Thomas, 2017). In order to be able to tackle inequalities in society and promote social and economic inclusion and sustainable practices; communication and media play a fundamental role. Different preventive communication strategies can be distinguished: public information campaigns, journalism, and entertainment education, among others. There has been a shift to an individual perspective and qualitative studies that give important hints for the construction of preventive messages, so individual understanding and interpretation of a message have to be taken into account. Even participative approaches offer great potential and should be regarded in the future (Singhal et al. 2004). Since transport inequality is strongly correlated to economic inequality, it is no coincidence that Oxfam used the image of a bus in its campaign (Figure below) before the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos to denounce that the richest 80 people on the globe control as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population put together. The metaphor of the bus serves as a representation of quantity, but also as a symbol of the realities people from different classes live in. It would be hard to picture the world’s wealthiest and most powerful people travelling on something as common as a double-decker instead of their private jets and helicopters.