Four decades of changing transport policy in Santiago, Chile


Oscar Figueroa

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, place - south america, organisation - contracting, organisation - competition, organisation - nationalisation


Santiago, Chile, Urban transport, Transport policy, Deregulation, Urban transport planning, Transantiago, Bus operation


During the last forty years, Santiago has experienced a series of drastic changes in public transport policies. These changes have ranged widely, from total deregulation to processes that concentrated the management of public transport within the hands of the public sector.

From traditional forms of regulations and policies within a framework that is common throughout Latin America, the system then migrated to complete deregulation. Later, it made a return to more traditional regulations, although tendering for concessions was introduced as an innovation. Finally, after a new intervention in 2007, a highly planned system was introduced with a strongly centralized organization of authority.

These four major changes, over four decades, leads to the conclusion that Santiago has become a true laboratory for public transport policies and management.

However, and regardless of these changes, certain elements have remained unaltered, such as the almost complete dominance of private ownership in the operation of the system (except for the minor public company, which ended during the 1970's), the absence of subsidies for operations (except in the last period) and with authority lying with the national government as opposed to local government.

This article reviews the practices of these forty years, analyzing the components of their policies, results and evaluations, as well as the foundations on which these changes are built.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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