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On track for equitable mobility in the suburbs : the case for a transition back to rail service on the former West Chester Rail Branch Corridor in the Greater Philadelphia area

Tovaas, Kristin LU (2013) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM01 20131
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
In many urban spaces in the United States, the personal vehicle continues to shape the landscape in unsustainable ways that prioritize the economically and socially dominant groups in society and cater to urban sprawl. Equitable access to density-promoting public transportation is often marginalized, creating transportation challenges for economically and socially disadvantaged groups. Throughout the heavily traveled northeastern United States, there are many branches of existing passenger rail networks that have had their service taken away over the past six decades of prioritized highway investments. These dormant rail lines might present an opportunity to improve equitable mobility in densely populated suburban centers using... (More)
In many urban spaces in the United States, the personal vehicle continues to shape the landscape in unsustainable ways that prioritize the economically and socially dominant groups in society and cater to urban sprawl. Equitable access to density-promoting public transportation is often marginalized, creating transportation challenges for economically and socially disadvantaged groups. Throughout the heavily traveled northeastern United States, there are many branches of existing passenger rail networks that have had their service taken away over the past six decades of prioritized highway investments. These dormant rail lines might present an opportunity to improve equitable mobility in densely populated suburban centers using pre-existing infrastructure. A case study is conducted on the West Chester Rail Branch Corridor (WCRBC), located in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, which had its passenger rail service discontinued in 1986. A hybrid framework is created combining Critical Urban Theory’s ‘Right to the City’ and Transition Theory to give structure to a more comprehensive analysis of the efforts and possibilities of returning passenger rail service to the WCRBC. Through the analysis of spatial data, semi-structured interviews and a survey, I suggest that it would be highly desirable yet moderately possible to accomplish a transition back to rail service in the WCRBC. This is conditional on the emergence of a niche-network made up of local actors which would combine its innovative, destructive and transformative power to pressure decision makers at the regime level to prioritize the project. The vision is for these decision makers to develop long-range strategies that actively work to reverse the trend of highway prioritization and promote equitable access to public transportation that meets the needs and desires of disadvantaged groups. (Less)
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author
Tovaas, Kristin LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM01 20131
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
public transportation, sustainability science, equitable mobility, transition theory, critical urban theory
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2013:016
language
English
id
3865235
date added to LUP
2013-06-20 14:11:19
date last changed
2013-06-20 14:11:19
@misc{3865235,
  abstract     = {In many urban spaces in the United States, the personal vehicle continues to shape the landscape in unsustainable ways that prioritize the economically and socially dominant groups in society and cater to urban sprawl. Equitable access to density-promoting public transportation is often marginalized, creating transportation challenges for economically and socially disadvantaged groups. Throughout the heavily traveled northeastern United States, there are many branches of existing passenger rail networks that have had their service taken away over the past six decades of prioritized highway investments. These dormant rail lines might present an opportunity to improve equitable mobility in densely populated suburban centers using pre-existing infrastructure. A case study is conducted on the West Chester Rail Branch Corridor (WCRBC), located in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, which had its passenger rail service discontinued in 1986. A hybrid framework is created combining Critical Urban Theory’s ‘Right to the City’ and Transition Theory to give structure to a more comprehensive analysis of the efforts and possibilities of returning passenger rail service to the WCRBC. Through the analysis of spatial data, semi-structured interviews and a survey, I suggest that it would be highly desirable yet moderately possible to accomplish a transition back to rail service in the WCRBC. This is conditional on the emergence of a niche-network made up of local actors which would combine its innovative, destructive and transformative power to pressure decision makers at the regime level to prioritize the project. The vision is for these decision makers to develop long-range strategies that actively work to reverse the trend of highway prioritization and promote equitable access to public transportation that meets the needs and desires of disadvantaged groups.},
  author       = {Tovaas, Kristin},
  keyword      = {public transportation,sustainability science,equitable mobility,transition theory,critical urban theory},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {On track for equitable mobility in the suburbs : the case for a transition back to rail service on the former West Chester Rail Branch Corridor in the Greater Philadelphia area},
  year         = {2013},
}