Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)

Staff photo

Professor Karen Lucas

Professor of Transport & Social Analysis

Phone: +44 (0)113 34 38086
Room: 1.05
Research Group: Social and Political Sciences

Research interests

Karen is Professor of Transport and Social Analysis at the Institute of Transport Studies, University of Leeds. She has had 20 years of experience in social research in transport. She is a world-leading expert in the area of transport-related social exclusion.

In 2015, she was given the Edward L. Ullman Award by the Transport Geography Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers and in 2016 the University of Leeds Women of Achievment Award, both for her significant contribution to transportation geography.

Karen is a regular advisor to national governments in the UK.  In 2002, she was seconded to the Social Exclusion Unit for fourteen months to develop policies to address the transport exclusion of low-income and disadvantaged groups and communities. She subsequently worked for the Department of Transport to undertake pilot studies and develop the Guidance on Accessibility Planning that resulted from this study. 

Karen is also chair of the Special Interest Group on Cultural and Social Issues in Transport for the World Conference on Transport and Society (WCTRS)

Employment history

Karen joined ITS in 2013.  She was previoulsy a Senior Research Fellow at the Transport Studies Unit (TSU), University of Oxford, where she also held a Senior Research Fellowship at Kellogg College.

She previously worked for 11 years as a senior research fellow at the Transport Studies Group, University of Westminster, where I was also research coordinator for its Centre for Sustainable Development.


  • RSA Diploma in Teaching Adult Basic Eduction, Westminster College (1989)
  • BSc Social Sciences (1st Class Honours), South Bank University (1994)
  • Master by Resolution, University of Oxford (2009)
  • PhD in environmental policy, University of Greenwich (1998).


Current projects

Descriptions of my current projects can be found under the Research Theme

Travel Behaviours and Social Inequalities

Current and recent research projects

My related  research is organised under 4 key themes:

1. Transport poverty and social disadvantage

This has been an ongoing programme of case study research with different low income and socially disadvantaged groups in a variety of settings in the UK and more recently in Australia, Brazil and South Africa.


  1. Social assessment of the A465 road bypass project in South Wales
  2. Modelling the relationships between transport poverty and social disadvantage
  3. Transport and Social Exclusion: New Directions and National Comparisons (TranSENDaNC)
  4. Transport and accessibility in low income communities in the Recife Metropolitan Region

2. Public participation and knowledge brokerage

The focus here is on how to secure the active public participation particularly of 'hard to reach' groups in policy decision-making at all levels of governance, as well as how to facilitate knowledge brokerage between 'expert' and 'non-expert' communities.


  1.  EU COST Action on Transport Equity Assessment
  2. Social Impacts and Equity issues in Transport Workshop Series

3. Social impact evaluation

This covers a range of theoretical and methodological issues, such as how to capture the full social benefits of new infrastructure projects and the development of appropriate evaluation metrics and methodologies for evaluating the equity outcomes of policy decisions.


  1. What Works Centre for Economic Growth?
  2. Greener Journeys:: make the switch to bus and coach
  3. Assessing the Social Distributional Impacts of Climate Change Polices for Transport
  4. Merseytravel Neighbourhood Travel Team Evaluation Study


4. Car dependence  

A particular research interest is the impact of the transition to a low carbon transport system on low income households and the implications of this for local service delivery, land use and transport planning.


  1. (t) ERES - Energy-related economic stress – (transport, housing and fuel poverty)
  2. Evaluating the effectiveness, impacts and success of DECC-funded low carbon communities on localised energy behaviours
  3. RAC Foundation study of the Car In British Society



Short course trainer for Transport Investment Appriasal (social impact assessment)

PhD Supervision Topics

I am happy to consider supervising research projects in a range of areas related to the transport inequalities, accessibility and the mobility experiences of differnt population groups from a quantitative and qualitative perspective. In particular I would welcome applications on:

  • The social consequences of transport poverty for different social groups
  • Social assessment of transport projects, policies and plans
  • The impacts of  transport investment projects in development contexts
  • Youth mobility and access to economic opportunities
  • Inclusive participation in transport decision-making



  • (2017) Urban Mobilities in the Global South, .
  • Lucas K (2011) Auto Motives: Understanding Car Use Behaviours, Emerald Publishing.
  • Manzi T; Lucas K; Lloyd-Jones T; Allen J (2010) Social sustainability in urban areas: Communities, connectivity and the urban fabric, pp.1-237. doi: 10.4324/9781849774956
  • Manzi T; Lucas K; Lloyd Jones T; Allen A (2010) Social Sustainability in Urban Areas, Routledge.
  • Lucas K (2004) Running on Empty: Transport, social exclusion and environmental justice, Policy Press.

Book Chapters


Conference Papers

Other Publications

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