An urban design and transportation engineering team from Santiago came up for a visit to MIT last week. Next fall, a joint MIT-PUC workshop will be focused on BRT corridor planning in the Boston area and for Transantiago. In anticipation, here are some photos from my visit to Santiago last summer:
Students, many wearing signs displaying the debt they are incurring to pursue higher education, dance to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’
Demonstrations earlier this year against HidroAysén piqued youth discontent about the Chilean government’s trending towards increased privatization. As winter approached in May and June, this discontent exploded into massive sit-ins and creative protests against profiteering in Chilean secondary and post-secondary education. Especially egregious were then Education Minister Joaquín Lavín’s attempts to funnel more government funds to his private universities. In three months of continuing demonstrations, charismatic young leaders have put forward a cogent critique of neoliberalism and the widening income gap in the country, and this critique has resonated widely with educators, healthcare workers, and labor unions. Students have been marching with many of these allies, and I found their creative messaging to be quite impressive. In late August, a national labor federation called a general strike, and 600,000 people are estimated to have participated in demonstrations during the two day strike. Even though national media has been working to turn public opinion against the demonstrators by focusing on the actions of a small contingent of violent troublemakers, President Piñera has felt widespread public pressure. He has made some significant concessions, but more seem inevitable as the popular movement continues to grow and he is forced to negotiate further with students.
Cartoon about educational privatization produced by architecture students from the Catholic University in Valparaíso (click on the image for an English translation)
For Sale: Public Education
Mr. Lavín (Minister of Education): Listen to the voice of the people
UDP Medical School: Get on the debtors’ bus
From the nursery to the university – free, quality public education
The Architecture Department mobilizes to fix the structural faults in the educational…
A mini guanaco (water cannon/tear gas launching tank)
Educashun is not four sail
June 16 student protest
“You want education? I’ll sell it to you!”
“Even though it might seem strange, the Catholic University is on strike”
My supervisors from the Across Latitudes and Cultures – Bus Rapid Transit Center of Excellence gave me a tour of Santiago’s Metro and the Transantiago bus system, focusing especially on the relatively new La Cisterna Intermodal Station. The massive complex includes bus loading bays on three levels, connections to two subway lines, a grocery store, and a gym.
In general, there were less musicians and vendors on Santiago’s buses and Metro than I encountered in other cities’ transportation systems. One exception is the scheming gringo shown in the video below – he may look familiar to my friends from high school.
Opened in 1975, Santiago’s metro is one of Latin America’s most extensive. With the recently opened extension to Maipú, the system has 108 stations. Lines 1, 2, and 5 rely on trains with rubber tires, while lines 4 and 4A use standard steel wheels. Lines 3 and 6 are currently being planned. Stations include a number of amenities, such as library branches and bicycle lockers.
Line 4 train at Tobalaba
Line 4 train departing Sótero del Río station
Monte Tabor station
Santiago Bueras station on the recent Line 5 extension
Rubber tires on Line 1
Bus bays at Vespucio Norte, the northern terminus of Line 2