1st Edition

Paratransit in African Cities Operations, Regulation and Reform

Edited By Roger Behrens, Dorothy McCormick, David Mfinanga Copyright 2016
    328 Pages
    by Routledge

    328 Pages
    by Routledge

    Public transport systems in contemporary Sub-Saharan African cities are heavily reliant upon paratransit services. These services are defined as informal transportation which operates between the public and individual private spheres.  In Africa paratransit is characterized by low quality of vehicles and chaotic management but it also provides cheap, accessible and flexible transport solutions for the urban poor. It is typically poorly regulated and operates as a set of informal businesses. A common result of weak public sector regulation and a fare strategy in which owners claim a fixed daily revenue target and drivers who keep the variable balance as income, is destructive competition and poor quality of service. There is an incontrovertible case for improving the quality, reliability and coverage of public transport systems, and some city governments have attempted to do so by initiating reform projects that envisage the phased replacement of paratransit operations with formalised bus rapid transit systems.

    In this book the authors argue that there are, however, path dependencies and constraints that limit the possible extent of public transport system reform. Paratransit operations also have some inherent advantages with respect to demand responsiveness and service innovation. Attempts to eradicate paratransit may be neither pragmatic nor strategic. Two future scenarios are likely: hybrid systems comprised of both paratransit and formally planned modes; and systems improved by upgrades and strengthened regulation of existing paratransit services. The business strategies and aspirations of incumbent paratransit operators in three case cities – Cape Town, Dar es Salaam and Nairobi – are discussed, as well as their attitudes towards emerging public transport reform projects. International experiences of hybrid system regulation and paratransit business development are reviewed in order to explore policy options. The authors contend that policies recognising paratransit operators, and seeking contextually appropriate complementarity with formalised planned services, will produce greater benefits than policies ignoring their continued existence.

    1. An introduction to paratransit in Sub-Saharan African cities 2. The state of public transport systems in three Sub-Saharan African cities 3. The nature of paratransit operations 4. Politics, policy and paratransit: A view from Nairobi 5. Approaches to paratransit reform 6. Matatu business strategies in Nairobi 7. Public transport and daladala service improvement prospects in Dar es Salaam 8. Minibus-taxi operator reforms, engagement and attitudes in Cape Town 9. Barriers to comprehensive paratransit replacement 10. International case studies of hybrid public transport system regulation and complementarity 11. West African case studies of integrated urban transport reform 12. Strategy options for paratransit business development and service improvement


    Roger Behrens is Director of the Centre for Transport Studies and the African Centre for Studies in Public and Non-Motorised Transport, and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

    Dorothy McCormick is a Research Professor at the Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi, Kenya.

    David Mfinanga is an Associate Professor in the Department of Transportation and Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

    "This book has a wealth of empirical experience, principally although not limited to its three case cities. It explores a less well-researched area (paratransit operations), providing insight for policymakers, transport planners and development practitioners among others." - Hannah Keren Lee, Environment and Urbanization