Matatu: A Case Study of the Core Segment of the Public Transport Market of Kampala, Uganda

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - vehicle, planning - surveys, ridership - drivers, mode - paratransit


Under developed countries, Third world, Shared-ride vans, Passengers, Paratransit services, Motor vehicle operators, Market surveys, Less developed countries, Kampala (Uganda), Drivers, Dial a ride, Developing countries, Case studies


In Uganda, public transport is provided by a four-tiered public transport system, with the Matatu (usually Toyota cabin-transporters of 1990s make) as its backbone, providing the widest, densest and cheapest connectivity. The article shares findings of a survey on perceptions, profiles and aspirations of drivers/conductors/stage personnel and of passengers. They show that entering a career within the Matatu business opens choices and promises inclusion into a relatively strong social network. For passengers, the Matatu offers a cost-effective opportunity to commute to places of work, transport goods and connect with business partners. The findings also point to limitations of the current public transport system, with emphasis on lacking client care, e.g. fare cheating by conductors. There is a need to better understand the dynamics of urban transport systems against the background of expanding urbanization in low-income countries. This article has attempted to contribute to that need.