Planning ethics in major transport schemes: reframing the challenge

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This paper revisits the various visions of justice in transport planning, with a focus on major schemes, and the role played by transport planners. Whereas extensive discussion has taken place in the case of urban schemes affecting particular communities, less attention has been paid to major planning concepts at the metropolitan, regional, national or international level, beyond the well-known discussion on ´megaprojects´. The paper elaborates on the merits and limitations for transport of the distributional, participatory and social/recognition dimensions of justice, and their disappointing limited influence in decision making at these planning levels. The paper opens in section 2 with a description of the various perspectives of justice in contemporary political philosophy, and how they have been received by the planning community within the general discussion on planning ethics. Section 3 reviews the differences of transport with other dimensions of spatial planning, and suggests that its comparatively high degree of autonomy facilitates the analysis of the planning cycle in this sector. Section 4 analyses different approaches to justice from transport planning, highlighting their similitudes and differences compared to other planning sectors, and advances a conceptual framework for the analysis of justice in transport planning. Section 5 applies this framework to three case studies: the Trans-European Transport Network, the Spanish National Transport Plan 2005-2020 and Madrid Chamartín redevelopment project2, defining their respective decision-making environment, the prevailing justice concept, and the legitimation process for the planning concept. Section 6 concludes suggesting that, although far from being mainstreamed, transport planning is making efforts to assume its complexity, and to adapt its practice to the interrelated justice requirements at the normative (procedural), descriptive (distributional) and cultural (recognition and participation) levels. A pragmatic practice is emerging, probably as a reaction to increasing criticism from the economic community (which attempts to address transport from the classical utilitarian approach) on the one side, and to unsatisfactory results of the autonomous practice, on the other side.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
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