The Shaping of Urban Public Transport

Two Cases of Alternative Leading Objects

  • Lina Ingeborgrud Norwegian University of Science and Technology


This paper investigates the shaping of urban public transport by comparing ‘alternative leading objects’ to the car in the Norwegian cities Trondheim and Bergen. These have chosen different transport technologies, bus and light rail respectively. I draw on the concept of technological frames and illustrate how interpretations and expectations of sustainable urban mobility guide transport planning. The paper contributes to discussions in STS by exploring technological frames as ongoing practices instead of as outcomes, and as performed by what I identify as two framing coalitions. Both coalitions emphasised that Trondheim and Bergen represented different city identities and topographies. The paper demonstrates the importance of making such identities and representations of public transport systems in particular urban contexts in order to replace a car-dominated transport system. The paper draws on an observational study in two transport offices, interviews with transport planners and politicians and document studies.


Download data is not yet available.


Aibar E and Bijker WE (1997) Constructing a City: The Cerdà Plan for the Extension of Barcelona. Science, Technology and Human Values. Vol. 22(1), pp. 3-30.

Banister D (2008) The sustainable mobility paradigm. Transport Policy. Vol. 15(2), pp. 73-80.

Bentzrød SB (05.01.2018) Bare knallharde bomavgifter får folk til å parkere bilen. Aftenposten. Last accessed 23.07.2018 from

Bergens Tidende Morgen (22.12.1992) Miljødryss over Bergen Last accessed 20.07.2018 from

Berger G, Feindt P, Holden E and Rubik F (2014) Sustainable Mobility – Challenges for a Complex Transition. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning. Vol. 16(3), pp. 303-320.

Bijker WE (1995) Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs. Toward a Theory of Sociotechnical Change. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.

Bijker WE (2001) Understanding technological culture through a constructivist view on science, technology and society. In Cutcliffe SH and Mitcham C (Eds.). Visions of STS: Counterpoints in Science, Technology, and Society Studies. SUNY Press.

Buchmann K, Robison R. and Foulds C (2017) Transport sector decarbonisation – a social sciences and humanities annotated bibliography. Cambridge: SHAPE ENERGY.

Bulkeley H, Castán Broto V and Edwards G (2015) An urban politics of climate change: Experimentation and the governing of socio-technical transitions. London: Routledge.

Burton E (2000) The Compact City: Just or Just Compact? A Preliminary Analysis. Urban Studies. Vol. 37(11), pp. 1969-2001.

Charmaz K (2006) Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide through Qualitative Analysis (Introducing Qualitative Methods series). London, California, New Delhi: Sage Publications Ltd.

Hegvold O (06.07.2007) De grønne støtter krav om bybane. Last accessed 19.07.2018 from

Hodne F, Gjerstad J and Grytten OH (1997) Sporveien i Bergen 1897-1997. Bergen: A/S Bergen sporvei.

Hodson M, Geels FW and McMeekin A (2017) Reconfiguring Urban Sustainability Transitions, Analysing Multiplicity. Sustainability. Vol. 9(2). Doi: 10.3390/su9020299.

Hommels A (2005) Unbuilding Cities: Obduracy in Urban Sociotechnical Change. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Jasanoff S (Ed.) (2004) States of knowledge: the co-production of science and the social order. Routledge.

Kjenstad R (2004) Trikken i Trondheim 100 år. Trondheim: Tapir akademiske forlag.

Kringstad H (15.09.2016) Superbuss – flere passasjerer, fortere fram. Trondheim 2030. Last accessed 23.07.2018 from

Kristoffersen A (12.03.1992) NÅ KOMMER "BYBANEN" - MED TROLLEY-BUSS. Bergens Tidende morgen. Last accessed 20.07.2018 from

Latour B (1987) Science in action: How to follow scientists and engineers through society. Harvard university press.

Lefebvre H (1971) Everyday life in the modern world. London: Allen Lane.

Leirset E and Gisnås L (31.05.2001) Ingen trikk i midtbyen. Adresseavisen, Trondheim. Last accessed 25.07.2018 from

Lian JI (2005) Effekter av hovedvegutbygging i Bergen og Oslo. TØI report 770/2005.

Lindebotten J (12.01.1992) Tryti – bybanens nye lokomotiv. Bergens Tidende Morgen. Last accessed 20.07.2018 from

Meulman J (2000) Lokalbaneplaner i Bergen i 1970-årene. På Sporet. 104, pp. 28-35.

Neuman M (2005) The Compact City Fallacy. Journal of Planning Education and Research. Vol. 25(1) pp. 11-26.

NRK (14.08.2001) NSB vil ha bybane. Last accessed 19.07.2018 from

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2012) Compact City Policies: A Comparative Assessment. OECD: Paris, France.

Parkhurst G, Kemp R, Dijk M and Sherwin H (2012) Intermodal Personal Mobility: A Niche Caught between Two Regimes. In: Geels FW, Kemp R, Dudley G and Lyons G (Eds.) Automobility in Transition? A Socio-Technical Analysis of Sustainable Transport. Routledge: New York, USA.

Pinch TJ and Bijker WE (1987) The social construction of facts and artifacts: Or how the sociology of. In Bijker WE, Hughes T. and Pinch TJ (Eds.) The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New directions in the Sociology and History of Technology. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Pineda AFV and Jørgensen U (2008) Urban Transportation Systems in Bogotá and Copenhagen: An Approach from STS. Built Environment. Vol. 34(2), pp. 200-217.

Pineda AFV and Jørgensen U (2015) Creating Copenhagen's Metro – On the role of protected spaces in arenas of development. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions. Vol. 18, pp. 201-214. DOI: 10.1016/j.eist.2015.05.002.

Rødland K (03.05.1993) Ny fremtid for trikken. Bergens Tidende Morgen. Last accessed 20.07.2018 from

Schwanen T, Banister D and Anable J (2011) Scientific research about climate change mitigation in transport: A critical review. Transportation Research Part A. Vol. 45, pp. 993-1006.

Schwanen T, Banister D and Anable J (2012) Rethinking habits and their role in behaviour change: the case of low-carbon mobility. Journal of Transport Geography. Vol. 24, pp. 522-532.

Schwanen T (2015) The Bumpy Road toward Low-Energy Urban Mobility: Case Studies from Two UK Cities. Sustainability. Vol. 7(6), pp. 7086-7111. DOI:10.3390/su7067086.

Thomassen Ø (1992) Bil i by. Trafikkplanlegging i Trondheim i 1960-åra. STS report no. 14, Trondheim: Center for Technology and Society.

Vollset M (2007) På sporet av bybanen. Bergen: Bodoni.

Website of Greener Trondheim (2017) Metrobuss: Slik blir busstilbudet i 2019 (no longer available)

Website of Greener Trondheim (2018) Om Metrobuss. Last accessed 23.07.2018 from

White Paper No. 26 (2013-2014) Nasjonal transportplan 2014-2023. Ministry of Transport and Communication, Norway.

Woolgar S (1990) Configuring the user: the case of usability trials. The Sociological Review. Vol. 38(1), pp. 58-99.

Østbye H (2008) The Norwegian media landscape. In Terzis G. (Ed.) European media governance: National and regional dimensions. Bristol: Intellect Ltd, pp. 157-168.