Roger Behrens – Centre for Transport Studies, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Dorothy McCormick – Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi, Kenya

David Mfinanga -Department of Transportation and Geotechnical Engineering, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Abstract : 

Most African urban public transport systems are heavily reliant upon minibus paratransit. Under the influence of international development agencies, over the past decade, a number of Sub-Saharan African city governments have embarked upon the initial phases, or at least proposed the installation, of high quality and technology bus rapid transit as a means of reforming public transport systems and replacing paratransit services. The aim of the study presented in this paper is to test a series propositions regarding the likely outcome of contemporary public transport reform strategies, and to explore which approaches to upgrading and integrating paratransit services hold greatest promise. The means of pursuing this objective is through the administration of a two-wave Delphi expert panel survey. The paper reports upon the results of the first round of the (n=17) Delphi survey. The panel of experts was selected on the basis of their experience in designing and preparing paratransit upgrade and integration projects in Sub-Saharan African cities. The panel identified quality regulation, road space prioritisation and operator business training as particularly important in strategies to upgrade existing services, and identified connecting corridors, feeder area licensing and reward schemes as particularly promising for strategies to integrate paratransit with formal scheduled services. While contested, the majority view of the panel was that the prospect of comprehensive paratransit replacement in Sub-Saharan African cities in the short- to medium-term seems remote. It was forecast that cities able to install formal scheduled services will depend, for decades, on hybrid systems that combine both scheduled and paratransit operators. Sub-Saharan African city government formulating much-needed strategies to reform their public transport systems should recognise the enduring presence of paratransit services, not ignore them.