In the wake of the Ghana Urban Transport Project, assemblies of the Greater Accra have created Departments of Transport (DoTs), with the main mandate to regulate urban passenger transport services at the local level. As a secondary function supporting this objective, DoTs have the responsibility to “carry out studies, investigations, data collection and research into urban passenger transport services, necessary for the improvement of the services” (urban passenger transport services by-law, 2008). Yet, very little data is currently available on these services: most assemblies maintain registries containing the name of active operator groups and limited information on the routes that they ply (generally, in the form of origin-destination pairs), but this data is too limited to be useful in the exercise of their functions. Not only is this lack of data an impediment to the effective regulation of paratransit services (trotros and taxis), but it also makes it difficult to plan and organize public transport at the metropolitan level.
Efforts to remedy this situation have been initiated by the DoT of Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) through the AccraMobile initiative – a collaborative project involving AMA, Concordia University, and AFD. The first phase of this initiative consisted in mapping Accra’s trotro network using GPS-enabled smartphones in 2014. This was successfully done in less than two months and with limited resources through the exclusive use of digital technologies for data collection. The second phase of AccraMobile consisted in assessing the quality of service on a sample of routes by analyzing the predictability of travel times, itineraries, and departure headway – it found that trotros were overall more reliable than one might have expected.1
While rich in lessons learnt, these two phases required a certain amount of technical manipulations and the use of sophisticated GIS software. The data format and type of storage used in the first phases of the project also prevented a wide range of potential users to have access to the data. This is why the third phase of AccraMobile aims to develop a streamlined methodology that can be deployed autonomously – and thus brought to scale – by DoTs, and makes the data freely accessible to everyone on an open data platform.