Professor Karen Lucas

Professor Karen Lucas


Karen is Professor of Transport and Social Analysis at the Institute of Transport Studies, University of Leeds and Deputy Director of the Leeds Social Sciences Institute. She has 20 years of experience in social research in transport. She is a world-leading expert in the area of transport-related social exclusion in the Global North and South. She leads the International Network for Transport and Accessibility in Low Income Communities (INTALInC).

In 2015, she won 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 and abroad.  In 2002, she was seconded to the Social Exclusion Unit 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. She has subsequently worked for local and national governments in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. She is currently, seconded to Highways England to set up a methodology for the community impact assessment of the Lower Thames Crossing project.

Karen is co-chair of the Special Interest Group on Cultural and Social Issues in Transport for the World Conference on Transport and Society (WCTRS) and of the NECTAR Cluster 7: Social and Health Impacts of Transport.  She is a memeber of the Editorial Boards for the Journal of Transport Geography, Springer's Transportation journal and Urban Book Series.

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 the Centre for Sustainable Development.


  • Deputy Director Leeds Social Science Institute (LSSI)

Research interests

Overview: - Travel Behaviours and Social Inequalities

My related research is organised under 4 key themes:

1. Transport poverty and social disadvantage

  1. International Network for Transport and accessibility in Low Income Communities
  2. Greener Jourrneys:: make the switch to bus and coach
  3. Modelling the relationships between transport poverty and social disadvantage
  4. Transport and Social Exclusion: New Directions and National Comparisons (TranSENDaNC)
  5. Transport and accessibility in low income communities in the Recife Metropolitan Region

2. Public participation and knowledge brokerage

  1. What Works Centre for Economic Growth?
  2. EU COST Action on Transport Equity Assessment
  3. Social Impacts and Equity issues in Transport Workshop Series

3. Social and Distributional Impact Assessment

  1. Government office for Science Foresight on Transport: Accesibility and Inclusion Review
  2. Lower Thames Crossing for Highways England
  3. A465 road bypass project in South Wales for Welsh Government
  4. Assessing the Social Distributional Impacts of Climate Change Polices for Transport for Department for Transport
  5. Merseytravel Neighbourhood Travel Team Evaluation Study

4. Car dependence  

  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
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD in environmental policy, University of Greenwich
  • Master by Resolution, University of Oxford
  • BSc Social Sciences, South Bank University
  • RSA Diploma in Teaching Adult Basic Eduction, Westminster College

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Student education


  • Masters' Dissertation Supervisor
  • CPD trainer and Masters' lecturer for Transport Investment Appriasal (social impact assessment)
  • CPD trainerTransport and Devlopment
  • Masters' Transport Integrated Project (expert advisor)
  • UG modules for BA Geogrpahy with Transport Studies

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

Research groups and institutes

  • Social and Political Sciences

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>