Moving the Masses: Toward a History of Public Transport in Postwar Latin America

in Mobility in History
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Nearly three decades ago, a French-trained urban planner remarked that “getting around any Latin American city is a true quotidian feat” for travelers contending with “the subways of Caracas, the packed lines of the Mexico metro, the Santiago journeys without any foreseeable destination, the crammed La Paz truffis [cars with fixed routes], the dangerous Lima micro[buses], and the ups-and-downs of central Quito.” While this description evokes the colorful spectrum of urban mobility in the region, it also sums up the anxieties of many postwar observers of Latin American cities: urban transportation seemed to be in crisis. With vehicle shortages, traffic congestion, air pollution, and sporadic social protests, public transportation tested Latin American metropolises since at least the postwar era.