Light rail transit （LRT） is a functional urban transportation system. The main benefits of LRT involve reduction of pollution and mitigation of traffic congestion. Many cities have studied the efficacy of implementing this type of a public transportation system. However, few have succeeded in placing LRT into practice because of the complexity of the interests of various parties, such as the local chief executive, other administrative authorities, railroad companies, and individual citizens. The interactions of these entities are a deterrent to building the necessary consensus for a successful outcome.
Hence, we focused on the interaction process to build consensus for the introduction of actual LRT based urban planning. We first theoretically studied the time series of interactions of stakeholders by applying the concept of pluralistic power. The concept of pluralistic power is a comprehensive theory including not only influences derived from the political power relationship based on a job or status, but also negotiation strategies in consensus building using advantages, conquest of weaknesses, convictions and compromises. Utilizing this theory, we empirically considered the conflictive and convergence points of a series of arguments. The study area of the analysis was Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture. An interview survey was first conducted in December 2010 with municipal staff involved in the project for introduction of LRT, members of a citizens’ organization and six railroad residents. The project for LRT in this city virtually fell apart in 2009.
As a result, the following implications were determined. First, the process of information disclosure by the project promoter （local chief executive and administrative authorities） did not have a functional role as “persuasion” or “muscle” because of unfairness, and became the crucial reason that consensus building did not work in 2003. After 2003, the confidence of the promoters, which could warrant persuasiveness for opponents in the discussions, decreased and introduction of LRT was unavoidably terminated.
This is a study not only of the beneficial nature of a public transportation system, but more importantly of a theory that leads to cooperation between various sectors of a community. Future research will evaluate the validity of the pluralistic power concept through field surveys and studies on successful implementation of LRT systems.
JEL Classification: Z18, Z19