Romano Del Mistro and Roger Behrens – Centre for Transport Studies, University of Cape Town, South Africa
A promising approach to integrating paratransit services with scheduled services in public transport system reform projects is through feeder-trunk-distributor service arrangements. In such arrangements the transport authority concentrates on providing or contracting a high capacity trunk service using large vehicles on corridors with the requisite passenger demand, while paratransit operators provide feeder and distribution services using smaller vehicles in adjacent areas. This paper explores the veracity of a perception amongst paratransit operators in Cape Town that operating feeder services is less lucrative than operating line-haul services. A public transport cost model is used to explore the implications of such a change in service operation, using cost and travel demand input data currently applicable in Cape Town. The modelling results suggest that individual minibus operators would be more profitable if they only provided feeder/distributor services, but that improved operating efficiencies would come at the cost of a reduction in the required minibus fleet and associated jobs. It is therefore concluded that if a feeder-trunk-distributor scheme is pursued as a means of integrating paratransit into a revitalised public transport system, considerable attention should to be given to developing strategies that absorb as many paratransit operators displaced by high capacity trunk services as possible. Providing feeder and distribution services for new choice passengers attracted to the improved trunk service may hold promise in this regard.