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Kathleen Frazer Oswald

Th is article argues that smart transportation—understood as convergences of communication and transportation infrastructure to facilitate movement—has long been manifested in what John Urry has described as nexus systems, or those that require many elements to work synchronously.1 Understanding smart infrastructures as those aligning with twenty-first-century sensibilities concerning technology, convenience, safety, and security, I demonstrate a longer trajectory for this seemingly new trend in three cases: (1) the synchronization of the train with the telegraph, (2) the organization of early automobility, and (3) information-rich/connected automobility and the driverless car. Rethinking smart infrastructure historically reveals a long-existing tendency rather than a new one to manage movement via communication technologies.

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Eduardo Oliveira

To introduce recent historical research on railways in Brazil, the case of one of its states makes a useful example. Concentrating on railway history in São Paulo will permit a more historiographical and thematic point of view. The São Paulo state railway is of particular significance in Brazil. At 4,041 km in 1907, it accounted for more than one-fifth of the total extent of all Brazilian railways (17,605 km), well ahead of runners up in the states of Minas Gerais (3,932 km) and Rio de Janeiro (2,422 km).2 The state of São Paulo also led in cargo transportation. The São Paulo Railway Company alone transported 1.9 million tons of cargo. Among the six most profitable transportation companies in Brazil, four were in São Paulo: São Paulo Railway Company, Sorocabana Railway Company, Paulista Railway Company (Companhia Paulista de Estradas de Ferro) and Mogiana Railway Company (Companhia Mogiana de Estradas de Ferro). Doctoral theses and academic papers on the history of Brazilian railways have grown in the last ten years, and studies of São Paulo predominate.

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Andrés Felipe Valderrama Pineda and Nina Vogel

Our objective is to account for the transitions in urban form and personal transportation in Copenhagen since 1947. Sustainability objectives are currently framed as efforts to reduce CO2 emissions. Urban transportation is a key area of intervention. In public debates, political parties, experts, and citizens make assertions about what is possible by referring to past experiences. Our contribution is to explore the official histories of Copenhagen in order to account for the transitions in mobility during the last six decades. We make a critical application of the multilevel perspective (MLP), which is the most used theory to study transitions. Our application is critical because the context of urban mobility necessarily includes a discussion of urban form development; therefore, we suggest ways in which the MLP should be adjusted in order to account for the historical dynamics evidenced in the empirical material collected for this study.

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Weert Canzler

Policy on transport infrastructure in Germany will come under increasing pressure thanks to considerable changes in basic conditions. Demographic change, shifts in economic and regional structures, continued social individualization, and the chronic budget crisis in the public sphere are forcing a readjustment of government action. At root, the impact of the changes in demographics and economic structures touches on what Germans themselves think their postwar democracy stands for. Highly consensual underlying assumptions about Germany as a model are being shaken. The doctrine that development of infrastructure is tantamount to growth and prosperity no longer holds. The experience in eastern Germany shows that more and better infrastructure does not automatically lead to more growth. Moreover, uniform government regulation is hitting limits. If the differences between boom regions and depopulated zones remain as large as they are, then it makes no sense to have the same regulatory maze apply to both cases. In transportation policy, that shift would mean recasting the legal foundations of public transport.

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History and Transport Policy

The Swiss Experience

Ueli Haefeli, Fritz Kobi and Ulrich Seewer

Based on analysis of two case studies in the Canton of Bern, this article examines the question of knowledge transfer from history to transport policy and planning in the recent past in Switzerland. It shows that for several reasons, direct knowledge transfer did not occur. In particular, historians have seldom become actively involved in transport planning and policy discourses, probably partly because the academic system offers no incentive to do so. However, historical knowledge has certainly influenced decision-making processes indirectly, via personal reflection of the actors in the world of practice or through Switzerland's strongly developed modes of political participation. Because the potential for knowledge transfer to contribute to better policy solutions has not been fully utilized, we recommend strengthening the role of existing interfaces between science and policy.

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Imperial Mobility

Circulation as History in East Asia under Empire

Kate McDonald

Histories of modern mobility often assume that modern forms of movement arrived in East Asia as part of a universal process of historical development. This article shows that the valorization of modern mobility in East Asia emerged out of the specific context of Euro-American imperial encroachment and Japanese imperial expansion. Through an examination of the tropes of opening and connecting, the article argues that the mobility of the modern can be understood as an “imperial” mobility in two senses: one, as a key component in European, American, and Japanese arguments for the legitimacy of empire; and two, as a global theory of history that constituted circulation as a measure of historical difference.

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The Tyranny of Time and Space—Weakened but Not Vanquished

Comment on Special Section on Media and Mobility

Patricia L. Mokhtarian

People have exchanged messages across distances of space or time since the dawn of human history. Modern technologies, for both travel and telecommunication, have vastly increased the speed and reach of our communication potential, but the difference from the past is not just one of degree: at least one difference in kind is the convergence of information/computing technology with communication technology (ICT), and specifically the emergence of the (now-mobile) internet. Relationships between ICT and travel are numerous, complex, and paradoxical. Speculation that “modern“ ICT could substitute for travel virtually coincided with the invention of the telephone, but scholars as early as the 1970s also realized the potential for mutual synergy and generation. Although ICT and travel have diminished the tyranny of space, they cannot be said to have conquered it.

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Racialized Capacities and Transgressive Mobility

“Asian” Laborers and “Western” Urban Transportation in Colonial Manila and Singapore

Michael D. Pante

This article places race at the analytical center of a comparative urban transport history of early twentieth-century Singapore and Manila. It focuses on motorization, as seen in the influx and eventual dominance of streetcars and automobiles. The British and the American colonizers turned these Western-made vehicles into symbols of colonial modernity, defined in racialized terms. They regarded the different “Asiatics” as naturally ill-equipped to handle streetcars and automobiles, and when the colonized proved them wrong, the colonizers framed these acts using the racialist discourse of “potentiality.” Nevertheless, the native transport laborers appropriated motorized vehicles in ways that the colonizers did not imagine. Machines presented the natives a world of knowledge, which was maximized for financial gain. The acquisition of various forms of knowledge thus revealed a paradox of the civilizing mission: the colonizers exposed natives to the world of civilized knowledge, but the acquisition of this knowledge disrupted colonial discipline.

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"All Transportation Is Local"

Mobile-Digital-Networked-Technologies and Networked Orientations

Joseph F. Turcotte and M. Len Ball

In an increasingly mediated situation, mobile, digital, and networked technologies (MDNTs) prompt individuals to orient themselves in new ways to the spaces they traverse. How users and communities experience these technologies in relation to the environments around them subsequently affects mentalities, including perceptions of space and mobility. The mediating presence of digital technology interconnects internal and external factors through diverse social and technological networks. This paper uses interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives to argue that ubiquitous MDNTs alter the ways that individuals orient themselves in relation to the spaces, both on- and offline, that they traverse. By mediating various visual, audible, and informational aspects of daily life while remaining implicated within external networks of related experiences, individuals move through on- and offline spaces in ways that allow the subject to negotiate her local environment(s). Experiences of mobility and space become more fluid as spatial subjectivities and mobility become integrated.

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Victor Seow

This thought piece reflects on the workings of modern migration through the prism of metabolism. It contends that the metabolic idiom productively underscores how migration as a process is enabled and evoked by particular flows of materials and energy and how the movement of migrants engenders social and environmental transformations.