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Urban Mobility and Sociability in Brasilia in

the Age of New Mobile Technologies


In what ways may the new carpooling mobile app Carona Phone alter urban
mobility and social practices in the Metropolitan Area of Brasilia?

Project Year: 2016


Author: Gabriela Neves de Lima
City: Brasilia, Brazil
Supervisor: Elonore Jabaud

Smart City: The impact of new information technologies on urban development and
governance in cities of the Global South

Abstract
This report looks at the transformational potential of mobile technologies on urban mobility
in the Metropolitan Area of Brasilia (AMB). It first explores the socio-spatial configuration of
Brasilia as a consequence of historical urban policies anchored on modernism and
subsequent urban sprawl that prioritized zoning and individual motorized transportation. It
then presents the embryonic Carona Phone carpooling app, and considers possible benefits
and limitations of such initiative on mobility and sociability in the metropolis. This study
remains largely exploratory, providing an initial interpretation of a more systematized
carpooling arrangement on altering urban mobility, and on the automobile as an instrument
for increased conviviality within the Brazilian capital. It ultimately proposes a framework for
future studies in the area.

**

Ce rapport sintresse au potentiel de transformation des nouvelles technologies sur la


mobilit urbaine dans le contexte de la Rgion Mtropolitaine de Brasilia (AMB). Dabord,
cette tude considre la configuration socio-spatiale de Brasilia, hritage dune politique
urbaine ancre sur le modernisme et dun talement qui priorisait le zonage et le transport
individuel motoris. Ensuite, le rapport prsente Carona Phone, une application
dautopartage qui est encore en phase exprimentale, et tudie les avantages et limitations de
cette initiative dans la mobilit et la sociabilit dans la ville. Cette tude reste exploratoire,
avec une interprtation initiale de ce modle dautopartage dans le dveloppement de la
mobilit urbaine et la voiture comme un instrument pour crer de la convivialit. Ce rapport
envisage donc ouvrir des portes des tudes futures dans ces domaines.

**

Este trabalho visa compreender o potencial de novas tecnologias na questo de mobilidade


urbana na rea Metropolitana de Braslia (AMB). Ele explora a configurao socio-espacial
de Braslia, consequncia de polticas urbanas ancoradas na tradio modernista e na
seguinte expanso de reas perifricas que priorizaram a zonagem e o transporte individual
motorizado. Em seguida, o estudo apresenta o aplicativo Carona Phone para caronas e
considera possveis benefcios e limitaes dessa iniciativa nos nveis de mobilidade e
sociabilidade na cidade. Este estudo apenas exploratrio, oferecendo uma interpretao
inicial deste esquema de carona sistematizada na mobilidade urbana e do uso do carro como
instrumento de convivialidade na capital brasileira. Este trabalho espera abrir portas para
novos estudos sobre as questes abordadas.

Acknowledgements
I would like to thank Urbanistes du Monde for making this research possible and Elonore
Jabaud for her precious guidance in completing this report.
I would also like to thank all Carona Phone App users who kindly agreed to be interviewed
during the rides, allowing for me to better understand the course this new mobile technology
is taking on urban mobility.

Context
Born and raised in Brasilia, I have always had an irresolute relationship with the city. I
continue to find its architectural elements and urban form (e.g. broad avenues, layers of
cement and over-scaled open spaces) aesthetically monumental. However, these same
characteristics, coupled with an extremely limited network of public transportation render
city-dwellers extremely reliant on automobiles. Fluidity and functionalism the absence of
pedestrians in the streets and compartmentalization of activities have contributed to
dismantling the gentle disorder of streets that foster daily encounters.
Learning to think the citys spatial organization from a young age has geared me towards
urban studies. I took the opportunity offered by Urbanistes du Monde to re-explore a city I
left at the precise moment of my emancipation (i.e. when I could finally obtain my drivers
license) and from which I have been away for the past four years. Brasilia seems to have
changed much, and that may be in part attributed to new information technologies. They seem
to be bringing inhabitants closer through the creation and sharing of events that aim at
reconquering vast public spaces, as well as through platforms that promote sharing initiatives.
Brasilia is perhaps the most loyal materialization of the modernist sketch and the age of
machines. Looking at an app that systematizes carpooling, I will investigate the phenomena
of de-individualization through the machine to offer mobility and sociability solutions within
Brasilias urban paradigm. The question for future consideration regards whether it is possible
to leave such paradigm and to propose true alternatives.

Oh! Brasilia, I have long awaited you 1911-19601

In: http://revistacentro.org/index.php/koolhaaspt/

Table of Contents
Introduction.5
1. Modern Design and Urban Sprawl: A Territory for and by the Automobile.....6
1.1 The Conception of the Capital...8
1.2 Socio-spatial Configuration, Urban Form and Mobility9
2. The Automobile: A Fertile Ground for Greater Sustainability and Sociability? .12
2.1 The Carona Phone Carpooling Mobile App...12
2.2 The Politics Behind Apps for Individual Transportation....13
2.3 Solidarity and Sociability....15

Final Remarks and Steps Forward17


Bibliography.18
Annex 1: Interview Questions..19
Annex 2: Brasilias Urban Form...22
Annex 3: Visuals of the Carona Phone App23

Introduction
Brasilia sprung from the lyrical confluence of Le Corbusiers Cartesian pure forms and the
unrelenting requirements of the Fordist machine. Broad parallel avenues linked by an intricate
network of roundabouts cut across vast urban monocultures, all of which facilitate the fluidity
of single-user motorized transit at the expense of public transportation and pedestrian
locomotion. Peripheral cities composing the Metropolitan Area of Brasilia (AMB), many of
which emerged and were developed as a direct consequence of the capitals urban form,
extend similar mobility and accessibility challenges to a wider territory. The continued and
increased dependence on the automobile accompanying urban sprawl and population
dynamics has aggravated environmental risks and traffic congestion, while concomitantly
excluding significant segments of the local population from an easy daily commute to work or
school, or more punctual displacements for recreational purposes. The challenges of mobility
in Brasilia demand that local political and community actors awaken from the modernist
utopian dream in order to promote innovative bottom-up strategies for a more integrated and
inclusive transportation system.
This research project has sought to study the emergence of a more systematized carpooling
initiative in AMB, which benefits from new information technologies. Although informal and
self-organized carpooling arrangements have long existed in the city, as neighbors, family
members and friends offer rides according to similar routes and schedules or in order to avoid
drunk driving, this study is interested on the Carona Phone mobile app in particular. Free of
charge and equipped with a series of innovative mapping and communication tools, this app
seems to propose a more efficient and inclusive platform for sharing rides. Carona Phone was
developed by students from the University of Brasilia (UnB) within the Interdisciplinary
Center for Transportation Studies (CEFTRU), under the guidance of Professor Willy
Gonzales Taco. Having the UnB campus and students in mind, developers created the app
with the purpose of reducing the number of cars in the streets and parking lots. Since
commuting in the AMB often follows pendular patterns according to geographically
circumscribed educational and professional institutions, carpooling represents a viable
solution for addressing environmental, social and economic questions linked to urban
mobility in the Brazilian capital.
Beyond its more functional objective to alter mobility practices, Carona Phone may have an
indirect impact on levels of sociability and conviviality within AMB. As will be argued in
greater depth in this report, modern urban design contributes to privatization of public life,
which ultimately produces anonymity and exacerbates social exclusion in the city. The
elimination of traditional multi-use streets and dependence on the automobile decreases
opportunities for spontaneous encounters and alters the perception of safe spaces. Carona
Phone proposes using the automobile symbol of an individualistic and consumerist society
for the purposes of sustainability and conviviality. To a certain extent, this app may be
understood a socializing tool requiring the development of trust relations, which
concomitantly permits the reconquering of newly conceived urban commons.
Nonetheless, Carona Phone App should be understood with greater care, for they may often
benefit certain populations and encourage governments to postpone more adequate measures
for collective transportation and cycling. This begs for a more detailed analysis looking at
disaggregated data of users, uses and routes over a longer period of time. Having a centralized
app may permit mapping the demand and supply of rides, which may serve as a database for
interpreting whether such a platform is indeed capable of socializing and democratizing
mobility or whether it perpetuates segregation and differential accessibility. The dialogue
between informal modes of transportation, which lies between the public and private sphere
could shed light on the development of transportation that more adequately suit the needs of
city-dwellers in the AMB.

1. Modern Design and Urban Sprawl: A Territory for


and by the Automobile
Before delving into the historical conception of Brasilia and its subsequent development and
sprawl, this initial section defines the territorial scope of the study, namely the Metropolitan
Area of Brasilia (AMB). The AMB proposed by the Federal Districts Company for
Development and Planning (CODEPLAN) in 2011 is composed of the Municipality of
Brasilia and eleven peripheral municipalities located in the surrounding State of Gois. The
Municipality of Brasilia is composed of thirty-one administrative regions (RAs). Each of
them is under a regional administrator nominated by the governor, who is responsible for
coordinating public services. Braslia corresponds to RA-1 and the other thirty RAs are listed
with their respective locations indicated on the map of the Municipality of Brasilia in Figure
1.1 below. The AMB is defined by urban and integration criteria. These include demographic
and economic indicators, as well as attraction and cohesion capacity within the
agglomeration, namely the flows of persons, goods and communication. Figure 1.2 includes a
list and corresponding map of the municipalities composing the Metropolitan Area of
Brasilia. As shown in Figure 1.3, the level of integration for each municipality of the AMB
differs, based on their population size, economic and functional import, level of urbanization
and availability of employment and public services in each.
Figure 1.1: Administrative Regions of the M unicipality of Brasilia 2
1. Braslia
2. Gama
3. Taguatinga
4. Brazlndia
5. Sobradinho II
6. Planaltina
7. Parano
8. Ncleo Bandeirante
9. Ceilndia
10. Guar
11. Cruzeiro
12. Samambaia
13. Santa Maria
14. So Sebastio
15. Recanto das Emas
16. Lago Sul
17. Riacho Fundo
18. Lago Norte
19. Candangolndia
20. Aguas Claras
21. Riacho Fundo II
24. Park Way
25. Estrutural/SCIA
26. Sobradinho
27. Jardim Botnico
28. Itapo
29. SIA
30. Vicente Pires
31. Fercal

2
De Holanda, Frederico, Valrio Augusto Soares de Medeiros, Rmulo Jos da Costa Ribeiro e Andra Mendona
de Moura. A configurao da Area Metropolitana de Braslia. Em: Metrpoles: Territrio, Coeso Social e
Governana Democrtica. 2015.

Figure 1.2: M unicipalities composing AM B and RIDE-DF 3

4. guas Lindas de Gois


5. Alexnia
7. Cidade Ocidental
10. Cristalina
11. Formosa
12. Luzinia
14. Novo Gama
15. Padre Bernardo
17. Planaltina
18. Santo Antnio do
Descoberto
19. Valparaso

Figure 1.3: Integration Level of M unicipalities in the M etropolitan


Area of Brasilia 4

Figure 1.2 also indicates the area of the Integrated Region for Development of the Federal
District and Periphery (RIDE-DF). This territory was created in 1998 by the Complementary
Law n 94 and regulated in 2011 by the Decree n 7.469,5 yet it did not represent a functional
understanding of the metropolitan area due to low integration levels. The AMB represents an
effort to better conceptualize policy-making in the metropolis and is thus used in the study as
the area for studying mobility.

Ibid.
Da Costa Ribeiro, Rmulo Jos and Frederico de Holanda. A Metrpole de Brasilia na rede urbana brasileira e
configurao interna. Em: Metrpoles: Territrio, Coeso Social e Governana Democrtica. 2015.
5
Ibid.
4

1.1 The Conception of the Capital


The inauguration of Brasilia in 1960 epitomized President Juscelino Kubitscheks project to
modernize Brazil in five years. Erected in the Central Plateau, neighboring Planaltina (created
in 1810) and Brazlndia (created in 1930), Brasilia would symbolize the countrys aspired
urban and political future. As argued by James Holston, this state-imposed city, which lacked
any historical substance, concurred with the negation of Brazils backwardness according to
modernization theories: the government finally had the opportunity to invest on strengthening
its central control and increase legibility of society through the reduction of urban chaos.6 In
perfect harmony with this objective was the project of the urban planner Lcio Costa and
chief architect Oscar Niemeyer, who were highly influenced by the ideas of Le Corbusier and
the CIAM (International Congresses of Modern Architecture). Together, they delivered a
modern design grounded on geometric simplicity and functional efficiency that encapsulated
Brasilias function as Brazils new administrative capital.
Modernism sought to artificially organize cities around straight lines intersecting at right
angles. According to Le Corbusier, their repetition and austerity were only natural in mans
quest for reason and order when the human mind is confronted with a combination of
different elements in incoherent junctions, it loses itself and becomes fatigued by such a
labyrinth of possibilities 7 and turns to geometry as a tolerable framework for human
existence. Parallel to the contemporary logic of mass production, the rationality and
uniformity of a geometrical layout were desirable to modernists since these aspects would not
only homogenize urban design and industrialize construction, but also specialize and
standardize everyday life. 8 Costa strictly followed Le Corbusiers recommendations and
developed Brasilias Pilot Plan as a system of two axes: the East-West Monumental Axis and
the North-South Residential Axis. Characterized by distinct functions, physically connected
only through arterial roads, the plan optimizes the efficiency of particular zones at the
expense of the dynamics and synergy of the city as a cohesive whole and the welfare of its
inhabitants.9
The modernist transformation of the street and open spaces render the public domain overscaled and often inaccessible. This urban design facilitated a top-down control of society: the
logic behind Brasilias plan established a totalizing order that rationalizes the organization of
inhabitants daily life.10 Brasilia materializes a political and ideological maneuver rather than
mirrors a bottom-up, experience- and needs-based organization of the city linked to economic
activity and demand for services. Nonetheless, the territorially circumscribed and unalterable
urban form of the Pilot Plan since its declaration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site pushed
an increasing population answering to the economic needs of the city to its outskirts,
ultimately producing a highly exclusionary and fragmented urban area. Initially referred to as
satellite cities, peripheral RAs with the exception of a few both denounce and reproduce
modernist models favoring isolated buildings and empty spaces, and lack articulation with
neighboring areas. The combination of these aspects renders mobility increasingly difficult,
highly dependent on a few roads, individual motorized vehicles and an insufficiently served
and expensive public transportation system.

6
Holston, James. The Modernist City: An Anthropological Critique of Braslia. Chicago: University of Chicago,
1989. Print.
7
Corbusier, Le. The Radiant City: Elements of a Doctrine of Urbanism to Be Used as the Basis of Our Machineage Civilization. New York: Orion, 1967. Print. pp.83-84
8
Calthorpe, Peter, and William B. Fulton. The Regional City: Planning for the End of Sprawl. Washington, DC:
Island, 2001. Print.
9
Ibid.
10
Holston, James. The Modernist City: An Anthropological Critique of Braslia. Chicago: University of Chicago,
1989. Print. p. 57

Using Jacobs and Appleyards list of main problems surrounding modern urban design,
Brasilia is characterized by poor living environments, especially in terms of security,
pollution, mobility and anonymity. The giantism produced by the over-scaling and
emptiness of spaces seem to translate into a sense of loss of control or belonging to
neighborhoods and the city more generally. Large scale privatization and the loss of public
life neatly correspond to what Galbraith has identified as the private affluence and public
squalor, as city-dwellers with different socio-professional backgrounds lack common
meeting places, rendering public life dependent on planned formal occasions and internal
locations. Instead, zoning and the creation of gated communities contribute to centrifugal
fragmentation, social isolation, urban sprawl and increased commuting distances. All of these
may generate injustice, exclusion, and a sense of placelessness. 11 All of these concerns
correspond to the dependence on and challenges linked to the automobile, which will be
argued in the second part of the report.

1.2. Socio-Spatial Organization, Urban Form and Mobility


The strict planning and regulation of Brasilia (RA-1), as well as the rather deregulated growth
of peripheral areas and to limited articulation between different administrative regions and
municipalities within AMB help explain the particularities of mobility in this area. This
section looks in greater detail at the interdependence of three factors the social organization
of the territory, and infrastructure and transport typology and urban form12 in order to
identify the four issues affecting displacement in the AMB.
1.2.1 Segregation and spatial organization
For the AMB, it is possible to observe an inversion of the conventional monocentric city
model. The center is less densely populated than the surrounding rings, yet it benefits from
the greatest offer of public transportation and other services. As previously argued, the
territorial dispersion of the AMB may be traced to the urban model of Brasilia, that pushed
the labor force to peripheral areas while concentrating employment and amenities at the
center. These developments disregarded implications for city-dwellers perception of and
displacement within the metropolitan area. Segregation was accentuated by the creation of
gated communities as a deliberate attempt of upper-class inhabitants to distinguish and
segregate the urban center from other neighborhoods and peripheral municipalities. The
consequence of these developments is a metropolitan area that is composed of dispersed and
rather homogenous settlements with differential access to services and amenities, articulated
by few global roads that hinder quick and sustainable forms of displacement.
1.2.2 Polarization of Dwelling and Employment
Employment is more widely available in RA-1, which explains why 45% of the entire
population of the Municipality of Brasilia works in this administrative region. Taguatinga is
the RA with the second greatest labor market; nonetheless, it hosts less than ten percent
(8,96%) of jobs in the municipality even if its population is 72% greater than that of RA-1.
With some peripheral administrative regions and municipalities only offering five to fifteen
thousand jobs, they are often referred to as dormitory cities located at the opposite end of
many inhabitants long daily pendular commute to work or school. Figure 1.4 provides a
visual comparison of the number of inhabitants for each RA (left) and the number of jobs per
RA (right) in the Municipality of Brasilia.

11
Jacobs, Allan and Donald Appleyard. Problems for Modern Urban Design. In: LeGates, Richard T., and
Frederic Stout. The City Reader. London: Routledge, 2011. Print.
12
Soares de Medeiros, Valrio Augusto and Ana Paula Borba Gonalves Barros. Organizao social do territrio
e Mobilidade Urbana. In: Metrpoles: Territrio, Coeso Social e Governana Democrtica. 2015.

The movement between home and work or schools is strongly affected by the organization
and provision of the public transportation system. The public transportation system is
composed of buses, and microbuses (only for RA-1) and two metro lines. The metro lines run
from the Center down the southern wing of the Pilot Plan to cities with highest population
densities, including Ceilndia, Samambaia and Taguatinga. The public transportation system
is characterized by three periods of strong intensity during the day: in the morning from 6am
to 8am (corresponding to 25% of the offer), at midday and in the evening between 6pm and
7pm. The hours in between are characterized by a strong decline in he offer, around 2-3% of
the provision of public transportation during the day.13
By using the index of passengers per kilometer (IPK), which measures the financial efficiency
of the system, it is possible to establish the relationship between the passengers,
displacements made and number of vehicles. Low IPKs mean that there is limited renewal of
passengers along the day, which is characteristic of pendular mobility. Brasilia has some of
the lowest IPK values in the country with 1,10 per kilometer (2009) and 349 passengers per
vehicles per day, whereas the national average is 63% greater with 569.6.
Figure 1.4: Number of Inhabitants per RA (Left) and Number of Jobs per RA
(Right) for the Municipality of Brasilia14

1.2.3 N um bers of Vehicles and Average Displacement Time


The number of inhabitants per individual vehicles in Brasilia for the year of 2013 was of 1,8
inhabitants, and 2.5 inhabitants per automobile. Brasilia stands thus in 9th place in comparison
to other municipalities in Brazil. Looking at the AMB, the number of inhabitants per
individual vehicles decrease to 2,2 inhabitants, corresponding to the 13th place in the national
ranking. With regards to public transportation, Brasilia has 177.9 individuals per vehicle of
public transportation and the AMB 192.9 individuals. In the past few years, there has been a
tryptich in the development for mobility in the metropolitan area: population growth, increase
in the automobile fleet and in the rate of motorization.
Over half (51%) of trips are performed in cars and 41% in public transportation. Commuting
for work and education purposes comprise 78% of these trips in Brasilia 53% for work and
25% for school or university. For the peripheral municipalities, commuting for work
comprises 64% of the journeys and 18% for school or university. One of the main issues
regarding displacement in the AMB is its duration. Although those living and working in RA1 benefit from short displacement times, Brasilia has higher average times of displacement
when compared to the average of Brazilian cities. Five of the municipalities with the highest
average of displacement (1-2) hours in Brazil are located in the AMB, namely Planaltina,
Cidade Ocidental, Santo Antnio do Descoberto, Novo Gama and guas Lindas.15
13

Ibid.
De Holanda, Frederico, Valrio Augusto Soares de Medeiros, Rmulo Jos da Costa Ribeiro e Andra
Mendona de Moura. A configurao da Area Metropolitana de Braslia. Em: Metrpoles: Territrio, Coeso
Social e Governana Democrtica. 2015.
15
Soares de Medeiros, Valrio Augusto and Ana Paula Borba Gonalves Barros. Organizao social do territrio
e Mobilidade Urbana. In: Metrpoles: Territrio, Coeso Social e Governana Democrtica. 2015.
14

10

1.2.4 Dispersion, discontinuity, low connectivity and integration


Calculating the number of lines per km2 allows the observation of the predominance of empty
spaces in AMB that contributes to the dispersion and discontinuity within the area. Brasilia
has the lowest value of lines per km2, and is followed by that of Rio de Janeiro, city for which
physical characteristics and topography are greatly responsible for low values of lines per
km2. Differently, low connectivity in Brasilia may be attributed to the dependence on a few
global axis and roads which are listed below and chromatically depicted in the Depthmap in
Figure 1.5 according to accessibility (warmer colors) and segregation (colder colors).
The main roads across the studied area are:
- EPIA Estrada Parque de IndUstrias e Abastecimento (DF-003): It is the most used
road and is depicted in red in Figure 1.5
- Two routes branch out from EPIA, connecting Brasilia to Administrative Regions:
o BR-020 (Northeast)
o Via Estrutural (southeast, along Vicente Pires, Ceilndia until guas Lindas)
- EPTG Estrada Parque Taguatinga: parallel to Via Estrutural in the south; it reaches
EPIA at SIA Sector for Industries and Supply. EPTG is an extremely important
road since it cuts through the RAs with the highest population densities, including
Guar, Vicente Pires, guas Claras, Taguatinga and Ceilndia.
- EPNB Estrada Parque Ncleo Bandeirante (DF-075) and (BR-060)
- BR-40: towards the South
Figure 1.5: Depthm ap of the AM B (Left), of the M unicipality of
Brasilia (Right) and of So Paulo for comparison (Below) 16

16

De Holanda, Frederico, Valrio Augusto Soares de Medeiros, Rmulo Jos da Costa Ribeiro e Andra
Mendona de Moura. A configurao da Area Metropolitana de Braslia. Em: Metrpoles: Territrio, Coeso
Social e Governana Democrtica. 2015.

11

2. The Automobile: A Fertile Ground for Greater


Sustainability and Sociability?
The previous part has offered an interrelated ideological and material explanation for the
dependence of the automobile for urban mobility in AMB. This section introduces a recently
launched mobile app, Carona Phone, to the previously outlined understanding of urban
mobility in order to explore potential transformations offered by carpooling in the metropolis.
It first provides a brief description of the conception of the app and presentation of how it
functions. It later discusses the ways in which it may help alter mobility and sociability in the
city by taking into account historical experiences and data-collection mechanisms. Due to the
still embryonic status of this app, the report does not attempt to identify transformations in
urban mobility that result from mobile technology, but rather to set the ground for future
studies, by highlighting factors and suggesting aspects that are worthy noting. Interview
questions for users (i.e. drivers and passengers), the creators of the app and local authorities
are proposed in Annex 1.

2.1 The Carona Phone Carpooling Mobile App


The Carona Phone mobile app is a recently launched platform for carpooling in the AMB,
developed within the framework of an educational institution. Although it is neither the only
mobile app used for the purpose of urban mobility, nor the only source of carpooling in the
metropolis, it remains distinct for two main reasons. Differently from ridesourcing initiatives
(e.g. Uber), Carona Phone does not aim at profitability, but rather hopes to promote increased
sustainability and accessibility regarding displacement. This original objective does not
preclude other rationales for using the app, including sharing costs and providing
opportunities for social encounters. It is thus, in essence solidary rather than entrepreneurial.
Although it may affect the taxi industry when used in more punctual and recreational
instances, it targets a different audience by aiming primarily at providing alternatives for
displacement in everyday life. Another aspect that renders this initiative singular is that it may
play a role in centralizing the offer and demand for rides, thus augmenting matching
possibilities and gathering data concerning users and uses that may be used to further
democratize mobility within the city.
This study was conducted during the second month since the official launch of the app for the
Android operating system on March 28, 2016. Within the first two months, the app was
downloaded seven thousand times and provided a platform for two thousand rides to be
offered. 17 Carona Phone is therefore still embryonic and experimental, reaching only a
limited number of potential users due to technical limitations (e.g. excluding individuals using
the Windows and IOS operating system) and requiring technological updates that respond to
emerging challenges. These hinder any form of systematic and rigorous analysis of its uses
and impact on urban mobility and individual practices in AMB at this early stage. In addition
to programmatic challenges encountered during this study, it is worth considering that
interviews were scheduled and conducted in the same period as universities breaks. Any data
gathered may thus be biased and unrepresentative of wider uses of the app once the classes
started and the app becomes more widely known. Rather than drawing conclusions based on
the data obtained thus far, this report touches upon main considerations that allow for a future
interpretation of mobile technologies and mobility in the Brazilian capital.
17

Alcntara, Manoela. Aplicativos de transporte ganham frente parlamenar e apoio na UNB. Metrpoles. 2016.
[online]< http://www.metropoles.com/distrito-federal/aplicativos-de-transporte-ganham-frente-parlamentar-eapoio-na-unb>

12

The Carona Phone app is free of charge and users profiles are linked to Facebook accounts.
First-time users read a mission of intent when opening the app (Figure 2.1, Annex 3). Users
must then choose whether they wish to offer or search for a ride (Figure 2.2, Annex 3). The
steps for registering and using the App are briefly outlined in the boxes bellow, and these are
linked corresponding visuals in Annex 3 taken directly from a simulation with the Carona
Phone app.
O ffering a Ride

S earc hing for a Ride

1. Register your vehicle (Figure 2.3)


and provide information for he vehicle,
including brand, model, color and
license plate (Figure 2.4).

1. Search for Proposed Rides (Figure


2.8)
2. Use filters to limit the search. Filters
may include information concerning
origin, destination, time and gender
(Figure 2.9).

2. Provide details of the Ride (Figure


2.5):
- Origin, destination and time,
- Tags (e.g flexible, music)
- Gender Option: Choose so that only
those of selected gender may see ride.

2. Chat with driver through the instant


conversation option (Figure 2.10).

3. Choose route (Figure 2.6) and wait


for requests (Figure 2.7).

2.2 The Politics Behind Apps for Individual Transportation


The use of mobile technologies for the promotion of individual transportation services has
been a contentious object of political debate since the launch of Uber. In Brazil, So Paulo
has been a precursor in addressing these new mobility services through the 56.981 Decree of
May 10, 2016.18 According to it, solidary rides are recognized as a lawful practice if rides are
performed without profitability purposes and offered by non-professional drivers.
Ridesourcing were also regulated, requiring that all companies using such apps be registered
in the city hall and that they pay R$ 0,10 per kilometer. Additionally, these companies were
required to provide local authorities with disaggregated information on rides. In the case of
Brasilia, the Legislative Chamber of the Federal District approved on June 28, 2016 Law
777/2015, which regulates individual transportation apps, ranging from Uber to Carona
Phone. It was signed on August 2, 2016 by the Governor Rodrigo Rollemberg, who defended
the regulation as opposed to restriction of ridesourcing and ridesharing in the area due to
its advantages for urban mobility.19
In spite of antagonism stemming from the taxi industry, the law received significant political
support. The Secretary of Mobility of the Federal District, Marcos Dantas, claimed the area
could not afford to miss out on the benefits brought by ridesourcing and ridesharing apps.
Prior to the approval of this law, a group of eight deputies and parliamentarians formed the
Frente Parlamentar em Defesa da Utilizao de Aplicativos para Transporte Individual de
Passageiros, a front for the defense of using apps that increased the offer and improved
18
Alcntara, Manoela. Aplicativos de transporte ganham frente parlamenar e apoio na UNB. [online]
Metrpoles. 2016. [online] <http://www.metropoles.com/distrito-federal/aplicativos-de-transporte-ganham-frenteparlamentar-e-apoio-na-unb>
19
Vidigal, Mateus. Lei do Uber sancionada no DF sem restringir verso popular do app. G1 Globo [online] <
http://g1.globo.com/distrito-federal/noticia/2016/08/sem-limitacao-versao-popular-lei-do-uber-e-sancionada-nodf.html >

13

matching potential of rides within the AMB. On June 14, 2016 they held an event at the
Technology Department of UnB, which gathered members of the commission to put forth
arguments for the public acceptance of apps targeting mobility. Among the participants were
the head of the initiative, deputy Professor Israel Batista, district deputy Celina Leo and
parliamentary members Professor Reginaldo Veras, Chico Leite, Sandra Faraj, Claudio
Abrantes, Luzia de Paula and Roosevelt Vilela), representatives of the Order of Lawyers of
Brazil (OAB-DF), the dean of UnB Ivan Marques de Toledo Camargo, as well as drivers and
users of such services. During this event, Professor Israel Batista argued that the Carona
Phone consisted of an important way to modernize urban mobility by increasing the number
of individuals per vehicles and the availability of vehicles.
The State Transit Department (DETRAN) and the Department of Roads (DER) equally
support and promote solidarity rides. Although these two institutions strictly forbid and place
fines on individuals offering informal colloquially referred to as pirate transportation,
they have been working with CEFTRU in order to create communication campaigns
encouraging carpooling through Carona Phone. In addition to receiving discursive support
and a legal definition, Carona Phone has obtained recognition for its technological and
innovative potential from the Start Up Brasilia Program. It was evaluated second of thirtyeight pre-selected startups and through this obtained 8,5 million in resources from the Federal
Districts Foundation for Research and Support. 20
Figure 2.11 Frente Parlamentar em Defesa da Utilizao de Aplicativos para
Transporte Individual de Passageiros21

20
Veloso, Serena. Frente parlamentar defende aplicativos para transporte individual. UNB Notcias. 2016
[online] <http://www.noticias.unb.br/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=740%3Afrenteparlamentar-defende-aplicativos-para-transporte-individual&catid=112&Itemid=102 >
21
Photo: Jlio Minasi Secom/UNB. Ibid.

14

Figure 2.12 District Deputies During Session that Approved Law 777/201522

Figure 2.13 Rodrigo Rollemberg Signs Law 777/201523

2.3 Solidarity and Sociability


Scrolling down the Carona Phone Facebook page a communication effort of the Carona
Phone team a post presents five motives for inhabitants of the AMB to offer and receive
rides. Two of them entail a deliberate social component: interacting with the crew and
sharing playlists with others.24 Beyond environmental and economic advantages of this new
form of mobility through the reduction of the number of cars performing the same routes,
there is an explicit attempt to increase sociability and conviviality within a metropolitan area
that has been inscribed in material and social challenges of modernist urban planning. Overscaled and inaccessible public space decreased the spontaneity of street encounters and
further conscripted social universes in the AMB, as neighbors and city-dwellers paths could
no longer commonly interweave in a democratic way. Additionally high public transportation
costs, as well as the functional and selective nature of used spaces (e.g. shopping centers,
clubs, universities) prevent individuals from different social classes and backgrounds to have
22

Photo: Carlos Gandra/CLDF. In: Nanini, Lucas. Cmara do DF aprova Lei do Uber e deixa limitao de
carros em aberto. G1 Globo. 2016. [online] < http://g1.globo.com/distrito-federal/noticia/2016/06/camara-do-dfaprova-lei-do-uber-e-discute-detalhamento-em-2-turno.html >
23
Vidigal, Mateus. Lei do Uber sancionada no DF sem restringir verso popular do app. G1 Globo [online] <
http://g1.globo.com/distrito-federal/noticia/2016/08/sem-limitacao-versao-popular-lei-do-uber-e-sancionada-nodf.html >
24
See: https://www.facebook.com/caronaphone/

15

daily encounters, intensifying exclusion and otherness. Countering this logic, Mrcio Batista,
one of the creators of Carona Phone, wishes to see neighbors actually meeting and getting to
know each other through shared spaces and practices. The app intends to not only increase
matching for punctual rides, but also to serve as an entry point for more systematized
carpooling initiatives between neighbors or city-dwellers that have similar journeys across the
AMB.
By analyzing the purposes behind the creation and use of the Carona Phone app, it is possible
to argue the emergence of a trend that entails the counter-privatization of the city and the
expansion of the commons to a traditionally internal space: the automobile. This machine has
been often associated to hyper-individualism and independence, as well as privatization of the
city. The automobile has been correlated to suburbanization in the United States and to all of
the socio-economic transformations accompanying this urban development, including the
creation of shopping malls as segregated or even discriminatory spaces. Through Carona
Phone, the automobile may be reconceived as the commons. A private machine associated
to possession and hypermobility becomes linked to the activating power of bringing
individuals together to accomplish the prosaic. The act of commoning25 draws on a network
of relationships made under the expectation that community members may take care of each
other, often away from market-driven mechanisms or in addition to government agencies and
funding. This mobile technology seems to be a way to resist the dominant paradigm of
modern life through one of its main symbols, calling upon the imaginary of the village or
community within the city.
A nostalgic pull, the resurrection of a forgotten traditions and practices has been common of
other urban phenomena such as gentrification. From the extensive literature on the impact of
gentrification on neighborhoods in a number of cities across the globe, it is necessary to
consider a gap that may exist between what Carona Phone intends to promote and how these
may be limited by structural factors. This initiative is dependent on mobile phones and cars,
both of which already entail a significant level of exclusion. It is thus crucial to look at this
app with certain skepticism, as it may simply reproduce inequalities at the expense of the
improvement of public amenities. In order to study the ways in which Carona Phone may
alter mobility it is necessary to obtain disaggregated data on the users and uses. The
quantitative and qualitative interview questions formulated in Annex 1 suggest the factors
that should be considered when gathering data for Carona Phone users and uses in order to
understand the scope of the public and territory being reached. The main advantage of
Carona Phone as opposed to a multiplicity of carpooling arrangements is its capacity to
gather information on displacement across AMB, which may be used by the local
governments to create more adequate policies and public services, catering to the evolving
needs of the population. Rather than replacing the State in offering public transportation and
ensuring mobility for city dwellers, Carona Phone and other apps may serve as a
complementary bottom-up initiative to existing services that may better inform and help adapt
the latter.

25
Linebaugh, Peter. The Magna Carta Manifesto : Liberties and Commons for all. 2008. University of California
Press.

16

Final Remarks and Steps Forward


This report attempted to understand the ways in which new mobile technologies, in particular
the Carona Phone app, may alter mobility within a metropolis that was developed around a
modernist project that exaggerated inequalities especially with regards to transportation. The
initial analysis of the historical conception and sociospatial configuration of the AMB, show
that the capital city and neighboring municipalities are highly dependent on cars due to long
distances, zoning and dominance of empty spaces. Carpooling efforts provide an immediate
answer to the unsustainable congestion and pollution levels in Brasilia. Local political
authorities have been highly supportive of the Carona Phone and ridesourcing initiatives,
noting that mobility in Brasilia is extremely problematic and must be addressed through
automobiles as the most important means of transportation. However, more in depth analysis
of the impacts of Carona Phone is needed in order to understand which segments of he
population and which spatial areas are being covered. These bottom-up initiatives have a
great socializing potential, yet practices dependent on structural factors (e.g. education levels
and professional milieu) may reproduce social inequalities and exclusion. A more inclusive
system in the long term may only be possible through defamiliarization leaving the
automobile while concomitantly improving and expanding public transportation (e.g. the fleet
of buses and the underground network) and intervening more appropriately in urban
development projects that prevent urban sprawl and that favor the creation of mixed spaces
and a polycentric metropolis.
Brasilia seems to offer an exemplary ground for understanding the ways in which the spatial
organization of a city having neglected the needs of the majority of its inhabitants has
inhibited adequate mobility and welcoming public spaces. The predominance of the
automobile in the streets signifies that it should be the first leverage for transforming modes
of transportation and accessibility. New information technologies, such as Carona Phone may
facilitate this transition through the centralization and potential democratization of
commoning efforts.

17

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2001. Island Press.
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vimento_regional/2014/AMB%20-%20Nota%20Tecnica%20dez2014.pdf
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Transformaes na Ordem Urbana. In: Metrpoles: Territrio, Coeso Social e Governana
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De Holanda, Frederico, Valrio Augusto Soares de Medeiros, Rmulo Jos da Costa Ribeiro
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Metrpoles: Territrio, Coeso Social e Governana Democrtica. 2015.
Holston, James. The Modernist City: An Anthropological Critique of Braslia. Chicago:
University of Chicago, 1989. Print.
Linebaugh, Peter. The Magna Carta Manifesto : Liberties and Commons for all. 2008.
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Yale UP, 1998. Print.
Soares de Medeiros, Valrio Augusto and Ana Paula Borba Gonalves Barros. Organizao
social do territrio e Mobilidade Urbana. In: Metrpoles: Territrio, Coeso Social e
Governana Democrtica. 2015.
Websites
https://www.facebook.com/caronaphone/
http://www.felipemenezesfotografia.com/
Alcntara, Manoela. Aplicativos de transporte ganham frente parlamenar e apoio na UNB.
[online] Metrpoles. 2016. [online] <http://www.metropoles.com/distrito-federal/aplicativosde-transporte-ganham-frente-parlamentar-e-apoio-na-unb>
Nanini, Lucas. Cmara do DF aprova Lei do Uber e deixa limitao de carros em aberto.
G1 Globo. 2016. [online] < http://g1.globo.com/distrito-federal/noticia/2016/06/camara-dodf-aprova-lei-do-uber-e-discute-detalhamento-em-2-turno.html >
Veloso, Serena. Frente parlamentar defende aplicativos para transporte individual. UNB
Notcias. 2016 [online]
<http://www.noticias.unb.br/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=740%3Afrent
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Vidigal, Mateus. Lei do Uber sancionada no DF sem restringir verso popular do app.
G1 Globo [online] < http://g1.globo.com/distrito-federal/noticia/2016/08/sem-limitacaoversao-popular-lei-do-uber-e-sancionada-no-df.html >

18

Annex 1: Interview Questions


A. Drivers:
1. Profile:
- Gender; age; postcode; and socio-professional category.
2. Mapping the offer of rides
- How many times have you offered rides last month and with what frequency during a
week?
- For what types of routes do you offer rides?
o Commutes between home and work or university)?
o During recreational outings?
o Other
- During what times of the day do you offer rides?
o Only during the morning/ afternoon/evening?
o Anytime of the day?
- What areas do you generally cover?
o The center?
o Center-periphery and/or periphery-center?
o Only periphery? Within a single or between administrative
region/municipality? Which?
- What is the average duration of the rides?
- How flexible are your rides?
o Are you willing to make detours according to passengers requests?
o Are you willing to change the time schedule slightly?
- Do you have repeated passengers requesting your rides? If so, why?
o Driver and passenger have corresponding routes?
o Driver and passenger live in the same area?
o Driver and passenger have created a systematized carpooling arrangement
and no longer need to continue carpooling practices via Carona Phone.
- Do you accept all requests if seats are available?
- Do you only offer single-gender rides?
- Do you also search for rides through Carona Phone?
3. Drivers feelings and intentions regarding the app:
- Why do you have a car?
- Why do you offer rides?
o For environmental purposes?
o To decrease congestion, and improve mobility across the city?
o To eventually share costs?
o To meet people?
- How would you define your experiences?
o Positive? Negative? None.
- Do you check the persons Facebook profile before accepting a request?

19

B. Passengers
1. Profile:
- Gender; age; postcode and socio-professional category
2. Mapping the search for rides
- How many times have you taken a rides last month and with what frequency during a
week?
- For what types of routes do you take rides?
o Commutes between home and work or university)?
o During recreational outings?
o Other.
- Where do the rides often take place?
o The center?
o Center-periphery and/or periphery-center?
o Only periphery? Within a single or between administrative
region/municipality? Which?
- During what times of the day do you take rides?
o Only during the morning/ afternoon/evening?
o Anytime of the day?
- What is the average duration of the rides?
- Have you taken rides with the same person more than once? If so, why?
o Driver and passenger have corresponding routes?
o Driver and passenger live in the same area?
o Driver and passenger have created a systematized carpooling arrangement
and no longer need to continue carpooling practices via Carona Phone.
- Do you only take single-gender rides?
- Do you take rides as part of a multi-modal displacement effort?
3. Users feelings and intentions regarding the app:
- Do you own a car?
- Why do you use this app?
o You do not own car?
o No, limited availability of or costly public transportation?
o To meet people?
o For environmental purposes?
o Is it more security?
o To avoid drunk driving?
- How would you define your experiences?
o Positive? Negative? None.
- Do you check the persons Facebook profile before sending a request?

20

C. Creators:
-

How did you come up with the idea of creating this app?
o Personal practices?
o Assessing limited urban mobility in Brasilia.
o Promoting the protection for the environment.
How long did it take to design the app and make it operational? How many
individuals participated in this endeavor?
What were the challenges encountered in the creation and operationalization of
Carona Phone? What are challenges being currently faced and how are you
responding to them?
o Technical?
o Political?
o Economic?
What are still the main limitations of Carona Phone and are you already in the
process
Did you encounter political opposition/support?
How was the project economically viable?
Do you use the app yourself?
Do you wish to extend the scope of Carona Phone in other Brazilian cities? Do you
think solidary ride would work as well in cities such as So Paulo?
The purpose of the ride is for commutes within the city. Do you think it is possible or
desirable to extend these rides to inter-city displacement.
Are you willing to share the data with public authorities in order to help improve
overall transportation: informing main axes and times of displacement in order to
create public transportation?

D. Political leaders:
-

Members of the Frente Parlamentar em Defesa da Utilizao de Aplicativos para


Transporte Individual de Passageiros
Governor Rodrigo Rollemberg
Secretary of Mobility of the Federal District Marcos Dantas the Government of the
Federal District
Representatives of DER and DETRAN

Questions:
- To what extent do you support Carona Phone? Have you expressed this support
publically or pushed for favorable legislation?
- Have you or are you planning on creating campaigns and other incentive mechanisms
to encourage the use of the Carona Phone App?
- What are the main political, economic and social aspects at stake linked to his new
form of mobility?
- To what extent may this perpetuate the dependency in cars, instead of promoting
greener forms of individual and public transportation?
- Do you have access to the data obtained by the Carona Phone group? If so, how are
you intending to use this data for improving infrastructure and amenities linked to
mobility in the city?
- Have you been able to note a change in the number of vehicles and accidents in
AMB?
- Have there been any police complaints linked to Carona Phone?

21

Annex 2: Brasilias Urban Form26

26

http://www.felipemenezesfotografia.com/

22

Annex 3: Visuals of the Carona Phone App


Figure 2.1

Figure 2.3

Figure 2.2

Figure 2.4

23

Figure 2.5

Figure 2.6

Figure 2.7

Figure 2.8

24

Figure 2.9

Figure 2.10

25