Transport/Infrastructure Politics in the Philippines
Over the past five years, through my work for the Coalitions for Change program in the Philippines, I have become increasingly interested in the political economy of transportation and infrastructure in the country. I've been somewhat surprised by this new obsession, especially as someone in his mid-50s who never played with electric trains as a child or had any interest in fast cars as a young man. In retrospect, I was a big fan of the rock band Traffic when I was a teenager, I had something of a fixation on provincial buses while researching local politics in the Philippines in the 1990s, and one of the published articles I am most proud of used the analogy of a 'total' traffic jam/gridlock as the basis for an analysis of the unravelling of the Suharto regime in Indonesia in 1998. And one of my all-time favourite books about politics, Robert Caro's The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (New York: Knopf, 1974), focuses on the political history of the transportation system of my hometown, New York City. So perhaps this 'new' obsession has been long in the making.
In any event, it's been thanks to transport gurus like Dr. Robie Siy and transport reform advocacy groups like Move Metro
Manila and Alt. Mobility PH that I've begun to develop my interest in transportation and infrastructure politics in the Philippines, and my aspiration to become a real 'transport geek'. I'm already working on a new book on this topic, which I hope to finish and publish over the next year.
In the meantime, here are a few short pieces I've written which give a taste of my thinking on this front:
“Averting ‘Carmageddon’ Through Reform? An Eco-Systemic Analysis of Traffic Congestion and Transport Policy Gridlock in Metro Manila,” Critical Asian Studies, Volume 52, Number 3 (September 2020), pp. 378-402.
Cleared for Takeoff: Coalitions for Change and the Development of Clark International Airport (San Francisco, CA: The Asia Foundation, 2019).
And that 'traffic jam' article on the fall of Suharto:
“Macet Total: Logics of Circulation and Accumulation in the Demise of Indonesia’s New Order,” Indonesia 66 (October 1998), pp. 159-194.