Transport poverty is an issue that has never fully captured the interests of the transport engineering profession in either the Global North or South. And yet, it is a problem that adversely affects the daily lives of literally millions of people within both geographical spheres. What precisely constitutes transport poverty is not adequately articulated within the academic, policy or infrastructure design literatures. This paper aims to demonstrate how the different ways that academic studies and policy programmes have defined and recorded the problem of transport poverty is directly related to the ways in which it has been subsequently addressed in practice. The overall impression is one of inadequacy, fragmentation, inconsistency and tokenistic treatment of an issue that potentially affects anywhere between 10 to 90 per cent of all households, depending on which definition is used and which country is being considered. This suggests that it is a far greater problem than the transport profession has previously been prepared to recognise and one that requires its urgent attention given the continuing trends for mass migration, urbanization and wealth concentration within and between the Global North and South.