Title

Mapping minibuses in Maputo and Nairobi: engaging paratransit in transportation planning in African cities

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

2019

Subject Area

place - africa, place - urban, mode - bus, mode - paratransit, planning - integration, policy - equity

Keywords

Paratransit, minibuses, informality, Nairobi, Maputo, transportation planning, data

Abstract

Often called paratransit because of their flexible stops, schedules and routes, minibuses make up the bulk of public transport in African cities. Despite their ubiquity and importance, these systems are poorly understood by transportation planners who tend to focus on large-scale urban infrastructure projects such as highways, commuter rail or bus rapid transit systems. The assumption within much of this planning is that these minibus systems are barriers to change and will become at most secondary “feeder” buses within large-scale projects, but structured plans detailing this vision are lacking. This paper argues that frequent failure to collect data and value important paratransit systems as a critical part of transportation in their own right is deeply problematic from the point of view of equity, access and inclusive and effective planning. We ask whether the growing number of bottom up mapping projects of minibus systems can disrupt this status quo. By comparing two mapping projects, Digital Matatus in Nairobi and the Mapa Dos Chapas in Maputo, we find that inclusive, collaborative mapping can help render these minibuses more visible in planning and provoke more grounded and inclusive “planning conversations” on multi-modal integration, passenger information and minibus upgrading, all key but relatively marginalised aspects of creating accessible, low emission, high quality and safe public transport in African cities.

Rights

Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor&Francis, copyright remains with them.

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