, catcalling, or staring. In public transport, moreover, a vehicle’s movement serves as an alibi to touch the other’s body, as shown by recent official campaigns in the New York City Subway, London Underground, Paris Metro, and Mexico City Metro. A survey in
Mobile Autoethnography on a South African Bus Service
the unfolding of everyday experiences of traveling with others on public transport, but the bus as a site of public engagement and encounter has received little attention by scholars. 12 The “public” aspect of public transportation has much to do
In Berlin’s U-Bahn an announcement cautions passengers: “Bitte beachten Sie beim Aussteigen die Lücke zwischen Zug und Bahnsteigkante.” This fastidious rendition of the London Underground’s “mind the gap” warning reveals audio equivalencies between the two transport networks. However, the more numerous curved platforms of the Underground—originally designed for the shorter trains of the past—mean that its gaps are more pronounced than those of the U-Bahn. When it comes to the cultural investigation of each city’s broader public transport histories and geographies, the reverse is true. Unlike in London, public transport in the German capital has escaped the significant scholarly attention of historians in recent years.
Andra B. Chastain
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.
Crises in urban electric transport infrastructure of Eastern and Southeastern Europe present not only a fruitful subject for historical, ethnographic, and sociological inquiry, but also contribute to two intersecting knowledge fields. First, to the multidisciplinary constellation of studies dedicated to failures of sociotechnical systems that I will refer to as disaster and crisis studies. And second, to social studies of urban transit in the former Socialist Bloc, a subfield within broader mobility and transport studies. In this text I will review the state of both these fields and then proceed to conceptualize the intersections between them, proposing historical anthropology as an integration tool. In the process I will occasionally refer to my fieldwork in Donbas, Ukraine, from 2011 to 2013, and eastern Romania since 2015.
Today and Tomorrow
Cycle rickshaws continue to play an important role in meeting the mobility demands in South Asian cities. Current transport policies, however, do not support their use. Rickshaws are viewed as a cause of congestion and a profession in which rickshaw owners exploit poor people. This article presents data from published studies to argue against those views. Data from Delhi metro users suggests that as cities expand their public transport services, rickshaws will continue as an important feeder mode in the future. Recent studies also suggest that if separate lanes are created for non-motorized vehicles (which can be used by bicycles as well), then rickshaws and motorized vehicles will experience less congestion and non-motorized vehicles will be exposed to lower traffic crash risk. This article advocates the collection of relevant data concerning rickshaw trips and the number of rickshaws in future travel surveys and that appropriate infrastructures should be designed to facilitate their movement.
Deborah Breen and Gijs Mom
“Mobility crisis”: These are the words used by Anumita Roychoudhury, the executive director of Delhi’s Centre for Science and Environment, to describe the growing pollution in India, especially in large cities like Delhi, as a result of the dramatic increase in the use of motorized vehicles in the past two decades. Although the population of Delhi and its surrounding cities more than doubled (to twenty-two million) between 1991 and 2011, she points out that registered cars and motorbikes increased fivefold, to eight million.1 Th is growth, along with increased but poorly regulated construction, underinvestment in public transport, and local and national policies that privilege automobiles at the expense of other forms of transport, has resulted in pollution rates that are now, according to a World Health Organization report, the worst in the world.2
This study was aimed at appraising the overall situation of social inclusion in the three southern border provinces of Thailand as well as comparing the results with the national level. The results of the analyses revealed significant difference between the social inclusion situation in the southern border provinces and the overall situation of the whole country in terms of last election voting rate; discrimination experienced because of social status, physical handicap, age, sexual harassment, gender, nationality, among others. Priority is given to Thai students over immigrant students in college admission, and there is less chance of an immigrant becoming CEO of a Thai company. Opinions on the inequality between men and women are surveyed, such as who would be better political leaders, who could study at the university level, and who make better business executives. It also refers to the experience of difficulty in using public transport, and experience in using social care facilities for their household members.
COVID Pandemic and the Politics of Mobility
This article reflects on the dissenting act of mobility as articulated by migrant workers in India, who, during the nationwide lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, are walking back home, hundreds of miles away, in lieu of public transport. Their mobility—precisely, the act of walking—has thus acquired a metaphoric status, and laid bare the ideological practices of territorializing the city-space. This article argues that the migrant worker’s mobility, from within the axiomatic of the prevalent “mobility regime,” can be read as a powerful metaphor of our tensions within the global political-economic order that the pandemic has so starkly exposed. The article provokes less literal, but more literary, understandings of mobilities in general, in order to come to grips with the manifold contradictions, paradoxes, and counteractions in the way the world moves.
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.