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Cities Research Seminar Series: The Politics of Public Transport Funding: A Case Study of the Legislative Process of the 2009 Subsidy Act in Chile

Julio will present on his paper that aims to explain how the Chilean public transport market became subsidized in 2009; analyzing to what extent public and private interests shaped the subsidy bill during the legislative process. Case study results demonstrate that: (i) the financial crisis of Santiago’s public transport system created the political momentum for the subsidy bill; (ii) legislators were not willing to pass this bill if public transport systems of the other of Chilean regions did not receive the same amount of money required for Santiago; (iii) opposition legislators took advantage of this financial crisis by strategically manipulating their votes in the Chamber of Deputies and later in the Senate to gain more political support for the coming elections; and (iv) despite all private interest pressures, the promulgated subsidy act preserved its public interest aim because the government only accepted changes proposed by legislators when these were aligned with primary justifications of this subsidy bill. As a conclusion, this case study stresses the importance of politics in shaping transport policy and the importance of understanding how transport policy change is triggered (and could be triggered). Producing optimal policies from a legislative process is a technocratic illusion. As transport specialists, we have to think how to influence the political discussion with realism and practicality, accepting that suboptimal policies are the best outcomes that we can aspire to produce.

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Speaker: Julio Briones

Julio Briones is a Chief Financial and Regulation Officer of Transantiago at Ministry of Transport of Chile. He is also an associate Professor of Transport Policy at Catholic University of Chile. Mr. Briones has a long-standing career in transportation and has had positions as an Advisor to the Minister of Transport of Chile, as a Manager of Intelligent Transport System at Regional Public Transport Division at the Ministry of Transport of Chile, as an Advisor at the Policy Unit of the Office of the Commissioner of Transport for London, as an Urban Transport Advisor at the Ministry of Planning of Chile, and as a Transport Planner at Fernández & De Cea Ingenieros, Chile.

Julio is a civil engineer by training with a Master’s degree of Science in Engineering at Catholic University of Chile. He also holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the London School of Economics.

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