Assessing the social costs of urban transport infrastructure options in low and middle income countries

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - urban, place - asia, mode - bus, mode - bus rapid transit, mode - car, mode - rail, mode - taxi, mode - subway/metro, mode - bike, mode - tram/light rail, mode - demand responsive transit, ridership - demand, economics - operating costs, planning - methods


Social cost model, private transport, public transport, demand responsive transit


This paper develops cost models for urban transport infrastructure options in situations where motorcycles and various forms of taxis are important modes of transport. The total social costs (TSCs) of conventional bus, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Monorail, Metro (Elevated Rail), car, motorcycle, Taxi and Uber are calculated for an urban corridor covering operator, user and external costs. Based on the parameters for a 7 km corridor in Hanoi, Vietnam, the results show the lowest average social cost (ASC) transport modes for different ranges of demand. Motorcycle might be the best option at low demand levels while conventional bus has advantages with low-medium demand. At medium demand levels, bus-based technologies and Monorail are competitive options while Metro, with a higher person capacity, is the best alternative at the highest demand levels. Compared to other modes, the ASCs of car and Taxi/Uber are greater because of high capital cost (related to vehicles) per passenger and low occupancy. Transport planners and decision makers in low and middle income countries (LMICs) can draw on the findings of this study. However, various limitations are identified and additional research is suggested.


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