Embracing Urban Elsewheres

The Story of BRT in Africa

Astrid Wood


Traces the movement of BRT from South America to South African cities as a means of addressing broader concerns regarding the mobility of knowledge, and how and why cities embrace urban elsewheres.

In 2006, BRT fever swept through South Africa. Just three years after learning of the Bogotá model of BRT, Johannesburg’s Rea Vaya opened as the first BRT system in Africa with more opening in following years.

While the South African BRT systems are unmistakably modelled after the achievements of those in Bogotá, the process through which South African cities learned of and implemented BRT raises questions regarding the mobility of knowledge, specifically how and why cities embrace urban elsewheres.

Embracing Urban Elsewheres traces this circulation of BRT, to understand how and why it was adopted in South Africa and, in doing so, reveals a new way of understanding the intersections between policy models, people and place.

Utilizing a range of case studies the author describes the process through which political systems assemble, mobilize and adopt new policies and practices. Wood contributes to ongoing geographical discussions on policy mobilities, by making a case for urban analyses of policies-in-motion and concluding that local authorities are instrumental in pushing and pulling circulated forms of knowledge.

This analysis extends South African urban studies and postcolonial urban transport literature by examining how policymakers address issues of transport justice, and how cities are constituted through their relations with elsewhere.

Author Bio

Astrid Wood is Lecturer in Economic Geography in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. She is an urban geographer concentrating on governance and the built environment in cities of the global south. Her research on critical urban studies and policy mobilities considers the range of political engagements and exchanges occurring through the localisation of global urban policy.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. The Geography of Knowledge
  • 2. Translating BRT to South African Cities
  • 3. Characters and Collaborations Mobilizing BRT through South African Cities
  • 4. The Local Politics of BRT Circulation
  • 5. Repetitive Processes of BRT Adoption
  • Conclusion


Publication Date: 15 September 2021
256 pages

Product ISBNs: Hardback: 9781786999795
eBook ePub: 9781786999757
eBook Kindle: 9781786999771

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