Effective Regulation for Sustainable Public Transport in Developing Countries

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - service quality, land use - planning, ridership - drivers, ridership - growth, policy - sustainable, organisation - regulation, place - urban, mode - bus, mode - mass transit


Urban transportation, Urban transit, Urban growth, Under developed countries, Transportation planning, Transportation infrastructure, Transit, Third world, Sustainable development, Sustainability, Service quality, Regulatory reform, Regulatory constraints, Regulation, Quality of service, Public transit, Public opinion, Poverty, Poor people, Passenger service quality, Passenger service, Mode share, Modal split, Mass transit, Low income groups, Low income families, Local transit, Less developed countries, Intracity transportation, Faisalabad (Pakistan), Developing countries, Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Colombo (Sri Lanka), Bus operators, Bus drivers, Automobile ownership


This paper has two key objectives. Firstly, using the findings from case study research undertaken in Colombo (Sri Lanka), Faisalabad (Pakistan) and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), the paper seeks to demonstrate the importance of an appropriate regulatory framework and effective mechanisms of enforcement for sustainable urban transport systems in developing countries. Secondly, the paper highlights the critical importance of communication and co-ordination between stakeholders (defined here as transport users, providers and regulators) if regulation is to be effective. The views of poor and disadvantaged passenger groups—women, children, the elderly and disabled—are used in the paper to illustrate the importance of transport systems to their livelihoods, such as work, education, health and social pursuits. The case studies suggest that in the context of the failure of both the fully regulated public transport sector and the completely deregulated sector self regulation is a potentially useful alternative. In practice, self regulation has been achieved in the case study locations through the formation of cooperatives or associations of stakeholders such as users and operators. In the conclusion, the paper makes two key points. Firstly, that regulation must be open, honest and effective, but not so detailed or ‘heavy’ that it incites the potential for corrupt practices. Secondly, communication and co-ordination between stakeholders is critical if any form of regulation is to be effective—owners', employees' and passengers' associations have a vital role in this regard, as do Transport Forums consisting of all stakeholders. The participation of stakeholders and real and effective consultation are more important in the case of self regulation of public transport service provision than in other regulatory regimes.


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