Policy Mobilities and Urban Change: The Case of Bus Rapid Transit in Colombia
thesisposted on 18.10.2016, 00:00 by Diego Silva Ardila
Social connections and interdependencies have increased today to levels never previously imagined. Global connections continue to progress, creating relations and interactions that feed off each other in a constantly growing progression. In regard to urban planning and policy, the plans, programs and policies that worked in other cities and latitudes and were then tried elsewhere are especially important. Traditionally, operating under the modernist rational model, decision-makers focused on the search for solutions that could be applied to all times and places, regardless of unique social, political and economic contexts. Along these lines, Latin American nations adopted foreign practices, mainly from Europe and the United States, in the shaping of their cities and policies. But today, research has brought into question the universality of policies and plans, arguing that local realities are unique in many ways and policies and practices from other latitudes do not necessarily fit, at least not in ways they did elsewhere (Eugene McCann & Ward, 2011; Mccann, 2011). Moreover, cities no longer look exclusively to Europe or the United States, the so-called “North,” for solutions to their problems. Instead, they explore policies and solutions from other latitudes in the so-called “South.” This dissertation examines one policy implemented in Bogotá, Colombia, which has become a major inspiration for cities both in the North and the South. In particular, it studies what happens as policy moves from one place to another. This is a case study of policy mobilities, understood as the processes of moving ideas, people and resources from one location to another; this dissertation hopes to shed light on the processes and transformations taking place along the way by examining the implementation of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system called TRANSMILENIO in Bogotá, following the policy´s trajectory from the local to the national scene, and then by analyzing its arrival to Bucaramanga, another city in Colombia, where the BRT system was named METROLINEA.