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A Case Study of the Sustainable Mobility Problem–Solution Paradox: Motility and Access of Metrorail Commuters in the Western Cape

Social Research and Methodology Group, University of Basel, Rheinsprung 24, 4051 Basel, Switzerland
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Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2842; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102842
Received: 19 March 2019 / Revised: 10 May 2019 / Accepted: 15 May 2019 / Published: 18 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Mobility and Transportation)
Public transport in general and passenger trains in particular are often advertised as solutions to mobility challenges due to their relatively low carbon footprint, high commuter load, high public safety, and contribution to reduced road congestion. But, how do these advantages apply to contexts characterized by inequality, poverty, and exclusion, and where train infrastructure is underdeveloped and poorly maintained? In this study, we examine the imaginaries and their associated transport predispositions of Metrorail users in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Based on 31 interviews conducted with Metrorail users, we explored how they conceptualize access to and use of mobility. The conceptual framework for this is provided by the Motility concept as developed by Kaufmann, Bergman, and Joye. Findings show that the context and culture defining the daily lives of Metrorail users reflect a reality, which is far removed from the way we theorize sustainable mobility. The limitations of spatial and social inequality, which create the mobility boundaries of Motility for these commuters, reveal a significant gap between their lives and the policies aimed to foster our sustainable mobility future. Despite this, the commuters of our study are highly mobile, and we end this article with an attempt to align these conflicting domains of dysfunctional contexts, mobility practices, and sustainability ideals. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainable mobility; trains; mobility access; Metrorail; motility; Western Cape; South Africa; content configuration analysis sustainable mobility; trains; mobility access; Metrorail; motility; Western Cape; South Africa; content configuration analysis
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Bergman, Z.; Bergman, M.M. A Case Study of the Sustainable Mobility Problem–Solution Paradox: Motility and Access of Metrorail Commuters in the Western Cape. Sustainability 2019, 11, 2842.

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