Making the sustainable more sustainable: public transport and the collaborative spaces of policy translation

Alexander Paulsson, Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, Pages 1-15 | Received 27 May 2017, Accepted 19 Jan 2018, Published online: 30 Jan 2018
This paper investigates where and how sustainable transport goals are translated into public transport planning and operations. The case where this is explored is the Regional Public Transport Authority (RPTA) in Stockholm, Sweden. By drawing upon recent discussions on policy translation and political–administrative relationships, sustainable transport is found to be translated in two different collaborative spaces in the RTPA. In the market side of the authority, which is mainly preoccupied with procurement of traffic and compliance issues, sustainable transport is translated into quantitative goals (including biofuels, emissions, noise, etc.) and mechanically reproduced from the politicians via the civil servants to the private operators. In the planning side of the authority, sustainability measurements have been hard to quantify and the challenge to integrate land-use and transport planning is resolved in an organic manner, in specific projects, between the strategic transport planners in the RPTA and the land-use planners in the municipalities, at a distance from the politicians’ involvement. Throughout the RPTA, sustainable transport has broadened to also include social sustainability, although this has been difficult to translate into quantitative measurements, which is the desired mode of governance by the politicians.

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