The Value of BRT in Urban Spaces
Edited by Fiona Ferbrache
Chapter 14: Materiality, immateriality and the replication of bus rapid transit in South Africa
The global reproduction of bus rapid transit (BRT) – a rapid mode of urban public transport that promises the high quality and speed of a rail system alongside the operating flexibility and low cost of a bus network – has been tremendous in recent years, and with dozens of new systems launched annually, it is one of the key urban policy models of the twenty-first century. While this impressive growth can be attributed to the achievements of its physical features and the services it provides, this chapter reflects on the replication of BRT worldwide, and specifically in 13 South African cities, to reinterpret the materiality and immateriality of policy models. The chapter redefines the BRT policy model as a power-laden product of transport provision, a policy of transit-oriented development and devolution and a symbolic, experiential and political practice. The nomenclature of ‘BRT’ encompasses both the material features of the bus and the stations as well as the immaterial features of policy and policymaking. These arguments employ the literature on policy mobilities to explain that BRT is more than just an imitation of the red busways in Bogotá but a story of comprehensive, locally driven change.
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