The DigitalTransport4Africa (DT4A) Webinar Series is a monthly webinar organized by WRI Africa and Global with DT4A consortium partners. The goal of the series is to facilitate knowledge exchange around public transport and data initiatives taking place in African cities and beyond, especially those undertaken by the consortium partners.
This seminar will share the findings and implementation of a pilot project, creating a new route in the informal transport network in Kampala, Uganda. Co-designed with operators, minibuses were subsidized to link two distant minibus stages, without passing through the congested downtown. The pilot operated for three weeks, and after the withdrawal of the subsidy, transport operators have continued to independently provide services on a subsection. This new service is disproportionately used by women in informal employment, replacing 1-to-2 hour long walking trips or expensive and dangerous motorcycle-taxi rides, and reducing their transport costs by up to 80%. It also increases passengers and revenues for the operators by approximately 7%.
Informal transport is the dominant, and often only, form of mass transit in African cities, and around the world. With no subsidy for operation or central planning by state or city authorities, the geography of services and the accessibility they provide is a function of the market. Operators often follow historical patterns, some dating back to the colonial period. With new maps of informal networks, studies suggest the extent of spatial coverage can be limited. Operators tend to over-concentrate on the densest corridors, while leaving other areas underserved, particularly lower-income neighborhoods and the urban periphery. This study tests an approach to effectively identify (gendered and classed) service gaps and suggests a light-touch policy for cities in supporting existing informal operators in closing those gaps.