On another track: Differing views of experts and politicians on rail investments in peripheral localities

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Israeli politicians strongly support inter-urban rail investment and network development connecting peripheral localities, while transport experts voice criticism and oppose many of the planned investments. This study focuses on the lacuna in transportation scholarship regarding elected officials' expectations from rail investment in peripheral areas and its potential to reduce spatial disparities, stressing that there is little research effort to reveal the reasoning of politicians when promoting transport investment and the extent to which some of the political considerations may reflect an authentic representation of public sentiments. First, an explorative qualitative study was conducted, using multiple data sets, including 12 in-depth interviews with elected officials and transport decision makers, newspaper articles, and professional documents. Analysis identified four main themes with conflicting perspectives between transport experts and politicians: Marginal vis-a-vis revolutionary effects; daily vis-a-vis less frequent activities; transport link vis-a-vis emotional link and social justice vis-a-vis social commitment. These themes reflect the tension between the discourse of accessibility led by experts and the implied discourse of mobility by politicians. The second stage was based on a large scale survey of 2008 respondents from peripheral and central localities in Israel, aimed at revealing public beliefs and preferences regarding rail investment in peripheral localities. Results showed that differences of opinion between experts and politicians do not stem only from political bias or irrelevant interests but reflect experts' inability to consider benefits that are appreciated by both politicians and the general public. The study also draws attention to different approaches to the goals of transportation systems. While the dominant voice in scholarly discourse considers accessibility gains as the main goal of transport policy, both elected politicians and residents from peripheral localities also appreciate mobility gains.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number103157
JournalJournal of Transport Geography
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

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  • Experts
  • Motility
  • Peripheral area
  • Politicians
  • Rail


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