Bus rapid transit as a neoliberal contradiction

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus rapid transit, mode - mass transit, place - urban, organisation - privatisation, organisation - management, economics - benefits, policy - sustainable


Public transit, Neoliberalism, Informal economies, Global South, BRT


Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is being implemented as a neoliberal project, but it creates contradictions that challenge the premise of neoliberalism. BRT projects are affordable rapid transit infrastructure, but they are also an impetus to restructure the urban bus sector in developing cities with informal mass transport. The dominant model of BRT implementation creates a market for bus service from large private companies where the government takes on the risk and brands the service as part of the city's attempt to be a ‘world class’ city that can attract mobile capital. However, BRT and the formalization of the bus sector can increase the power of urban residents by firmly putting transport in the public sphere; workers by increasing the incentives for collective action; and bus riders by prioritizing space for buses over cars. But these are only openings that require action to take advantage of the contradictions.


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


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