Uneven public transportation development in neoliberalizing Chicago, USA

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, operations - reliability, operations - performance, economics - finance


urbanization, transit-construction projects, investment in infrastructure


This paper examines how neoliberal urbanization has transformed the role of public transportation into an entrepreneurial tool that creates place-based advantages for capital in global cities. Using Chicago, USA as a case study, I examine new transit-construction projects focused on Chicago’s downtown Central Area—the Express Airport Service and Circle Line—to demonstrate how public transit infrastructure is increasingly deployed as a means to attract global capital as well as enhance affluent residents’ and tourists’ rights to the city. I contrast these projects to the lack of new public transit investment for areas outside of Chicago’s downtown global city showcase zone. Declining service levels and unreliable transit infrastructure due to the neoliberal retrenchment in the public sector are also constricting working people’s right to the city. Taken together, these trends express the nature of uneven public transit development emerging in the neoliberal city of Chicago.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Environment and Planning, copyright remains with them.