This study investigates the intersections of local democratic experimentation and transit planning in Quito, Ecuador between 1972-2015 to better understand how transit planning outcomes take shape. It shows that while current national transformation promotes a participatory democracy and a desired future of different economic and social realities, this has resulted in alternative logics that take place through transit planning.
Within this context, on the one hand, I reveal that when transit planning institutions apply institutional practices of citizen participation these engagements not only fail to incorporate concepts of justice or equity, at the same time, they are also deeply entrenched by social, political, and cultural meaning that provoke new possibilities. On the other hand, I show how transit planning occurs through the performance of different transit visions. I trace transit visions to understand how transit planning outcomes emerge through the repetition of social relations.
My investigation treats transit planning as an unstable object of analysis in order to reveal the ensemble of visible and invisible dynamics behind transit outcomes. I show that transit decisions are made between a variety of positions that are not just shaped by traditional tools of prediction and behavior. Instead, I use four guiding transit visions: (1) unstable (2) mayors (3) institutions and (4) infrastructures to indicate how transit planning is accomplished through reiteration. I triangulate multiple sources—social media, archives, participant observation, interviews and two survey instruments—to write about transit planning from an ethnographic point of view to comprehend how transit outcomes are done. The study documents how these visions coalesce through the experiences of public transit users. I subsequently analyze data gathered from urban cyclists, who are at the margins of transit infrastructure, to provoke new ways of researching and analyzing transit problems.