Untangling the Traffic Gridlock: Moving around Metro Manila's public transport crisis

Authors: Gina Rocafort Gatarin*, Western Sydney University
Topics: Urban Geography, Transportation Geography, Asia
Keywords: Manila, public transport, shared responsibility, traffic, urban development
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Roosevelt 4, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Experiencing traffic gridlock has been a staple part of the lives of more than 12 million people in Metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines. The majority of them use land-based modes of public transport, entailing long hours of travel and substantial fare costs. While there are state plans and projects to address the gridlock situation, they tend to be technocratic geared towards the ends of economic growth, competitiveness, and job creation. Technocratic solutions primarily involve building more transport infrastructures and modernising public utility vehicles. These tend to favour elite families who have dominated the trajectory of urban development in Manila through their businesses. They marginalise “meaningful” civil society participation and vibrant cultures of travel in the Philippines, such as the jeepney. This research conducts qualitative research through interviews and engaged observation with representatives of civil society organisations, government transport agencies and the private sector on how they frame the creation of public transport innovations. It also engages with an auto-ethnographic account of the experience of Manila’s deteriorating public transport system. As such, the study will contribute to reconstituting urban mobility as a project of “shared responsibility” with the heterogeneous “publics” of the public transport system. It builds upon a post-development discourse and the urbanism of Jane Jacobs in understanding modernity and order in the context of the politics of urban development.

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