Working paper
Political Leadership and Transformative Urban Transport : The Case of Paris and Ile de France
Governance, Political leadesrhip, Policy change, Transport, Paris, Ile-de-France Region
The Paris case shows a striking paradox between, on the one hand, multiple initiatives and conflicting political leadership, and on the other hand, and the making of a mode of governance, with massive and transformative outcomes. In other words, what used to be mainly organized at national level as part of the transport sector appears to be increasingly territorialized at both the regional and the urban levels. We seek to understand if and how political leadership played a role in these massive changes… but also, how transport played a role in the making of this mode of urban regional governance. In order to do so, we suggest considering evolving relationships between three levels of government, namely Paris City Council, the Ile-de-France Region and the French State in designing, planning and implementing urban transport. We consider a 30 years period of time from 1988 onwards, when there was no such thing as an urban transport policy in Paris, until 2014 and the implementation the Grand Paris Express. In order to analyze these massive changes, we ask the following questions: 1) what happened in terms of changes in political leadership? 2) Why that is, did political leadership play a role in this process? 3) How and who that is, which actors and organizations, and with what resources? We show that political leadership constitutes an essential dimension of governance, but is not sufficient in order to explain these massive and rapid changes in urban transport. Both radical policy choices and classic incrementalism are combined to make sense of the transformative transport system.