Equity and Transportation in Buenos Aires

                Looking around our cities, we notice changes. A new shopping mall, the opening of a bike lane or the removal of an old building. Because these changes occur gradually and in our everyday environment, it is counter intuitive to consider the profound and swift global forces that are fuelling them.  We, however, live in an increasingly globalized world, and should understand the way that the line between local and global forces can be blurry. In this conversation, I will be discussing the causes and effects of the changes in transportation in the city of Buenos Aires.

                One of the more drastic changes in city life in Buenos Aires, and cities around the world for that matter, is the sharp increase in automobility. The fleet of cars in Argentina in 2010 is 132% of what it was just four years earlier. Over the same period, investments in roads increased by more than 2.5 times, outstripping and creating demand. Accompanying these increases, in January, the national government cut in half its funding for the subway system, leading to a 127% fare increase and a devastating 30% decrease in ridership. The transfer of funds from public transport to personal automobility has reduced the mobility, among other changes, of large sections of the population.

                Why are money and power shifting so drastically? Using Sassen’s model of a Global City as “the terrain where a multiplicity of globalization processes assume concrete, localized form,” we can analyze the ways in which global forces interact with local environments as the city becomes a contested site.  The changing face of transportation in the metropolis is affected both by emerging BRIC markets, as well as by the outcome of mayoral elections. The spatial, cultural and economic shifts will partially determine agency and quality of life in this global city.

                With a focus on how power relations are re-enforced through increased reliance on automobility, the next entries in this conversation will underline and analyze the changes, the forces behind them and what is left in their wake. Cultural capital, political agency and economic livelihood are all at stake as we trace the history of the automobile in Argentina from its roots as a luxurious toy for the wealthy to a staple of middle class identity and pervasive modifier of city life.  

Location

Buenos Aires
Argentina
  • Austin Miller | September 12th, 2012
    The national Argentine government, under President Christina Fernando de Kirchner, confirmed the elimination of all funding for the Buenos Aires subway. The confirmation is in accordance with the deal signed with Mauricio Macri, the city's mayor, in...
  • Austin Miller | August 14th, 2012
                 Buenos Aires has been quite the mess this past week. Traffic jams for blocks and passengers packed into buses like sardines have provided vivid imagery for what happens when the subways are...
  • Austin Miller | July 23rd, 2012
    The intensity of the frustration and sense of defeat on her face surprised me. After all, a seventy-five centavo raise (or less than twenty cents) is not such a big deal, right? While standing at the bus stop, I mentioned the recently announced fare...
  • Photo Credits to Freefoto.com
    Austin Miller | July 17th, 2012
    Neoliberalism has reached the Southern Cone. Accompanying the privatization of public facilities, capital liquidation and de-regulation, socio-territorial changes have profoundly changed the layout and experience of the Argentine capital. These...