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Citizen participation for sustainable transport: Lessons for change from Santiago and Temuco, Chile


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Winning citizens’ support for urban planning decisions has been a challenge at least since Jacobs published her groundbreaking Death and Life of Great American Cities (Jacobs, 1961) and Arnstein defined a “ladder of participation” (Arnstein, 1969). Since then, anti-highway movements and pro-cycling advocacy have demonstrated considerable efficacy (Buehler & Pucher, 2017; Fackler, 2009; Harcourt, Rossiter, & Cameron, 2007; Hovey, 1998; Ladd, 2008; Mohl, 2012; Sewell, 1993). With few exceptions, however, public transport and Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) have failed to fire imaginations and fuel social movements in their favour. Using Innes and Booher’s 2000 framework typifying participatory approaches, this study examines the interface between government decision making and citizens, in two contrasting cities in a transitioning country, Chile. From its inception, the New Alameda Providencia BRT corridor (NAP) has attempted to transform a transport project into a highly valued public space in Metropolitan Santiago. In the regional capital of Temuco-Padre Las Casas, innovative participation in Temuco Te Mueve Public Transport Plan was designed to build consensuses and permanent citizen-government collaboration. These experiences underline the need to pay more attention to both process and institutions for sustainability. They also suggest strategies for transitions, even where governance arrangements are particularly complex.

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