Assessing the inequalities in access to online delivery services and the way COVID-19 pandemic affects marginalization

Elsevier, Transport Policy, Volume 109, August 2021
Sanchez-Diaz I., Altuntas Vural C., Halldorsson A.

This paper discusses the importance of incorporating online home delivery services (OHDS) into the concept of accessibility and marginalization. The authors propose a method to quantify access to OHDS and assess levels of inequalities in access to OHDS using data from OHDS providers in the pharmaceutical and food sectors, as well as from transport operators delivering parcels. The Västra Götaland Region in the West coast of Sweden is used as a case study. The results show significant inequalities in access to OHDS. Moreover, there are segments of population under a compound marginalization during the COVID-19 pandemic due to (i) limited accessibility to OHDS services, (ii) high incidence of COVID-19 cases in their area that makes physical visits to a store a risk activity, and (iii) high vulnerability (e.g., high share of individuals older than 65). These results reveal a need for the public sector to prioritize innovations in services that target specific clusters of the population that are vulnerable and marginalized, but also shows the imminent risk for some of these segments during the pandemic.