A snapshot of the informal organization of public transport operators in the Caribbean: Tap-Tap services in Port-Au-Prince

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - south america, place - urban, literature review - literature review, mode - other, planning - surveys, organisation - regulation, ridership - demand, policy - equity


Informal transport, Haiti, Organization, Inequality, Operations


Literature about transport in the Caribbean is scarce. Furthermore, the lack of studies exploring the complexities associated with informality in transport in cities of the Caribbean stands in contrast with the wealth of literature about cities in the neighboring Central and South America. This knowledge gap has led to limited evidence and methods tailored to the region to inform transport policy, public investments, and regulation. This paper seeks to partially address this gap by presenting a snapshot of public transport supply (and suppliers) in Haiti's Metropolitan Area of Port-Au-Prince (PAP), an urban context marked by acute poverty and inequality social vulnerability. The paper frames the analysis in three dimensions of informal organization of transport supply: functional, space-time, and social, building on a literature review of informal transport in the Global South. The study builds on a survey conducted in 2018 to 461 drivers of Tap-Tap, privately-owned and operated modified pick-ups providing collective transport services to a large share of PAP's public transport demand. We construct a profile of the modes of organization and operation of Tap-Tap services under the three dimensions in the framework. The paper finds low levels of representation and organization, a limited role of drivers' associations, an overwhelmingly old fleet, and a masculine, unequal and exploitative system for operations. We also find that personal relationships play a significant role in the profitability of support functions of informal transport services. Such findings can inform policy and regulation in a highly dependent context from international development assistance, providing much-needed evidence for addressing pressing urban transport planning investment priorities.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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