Assessing stakeholder perspectives for efficient allocation of paratransit towards mitigating unequal access to opportunities in sub-Saharan African Cities

Project ledare: Gift Dumedah
Regional Transport Research and Education Centre Kumasi (TRECK), KNUST, Ghana


Adequate access to paratransit is a welfare and livelihood issue in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), a challenge which is especially heightened in informal urban communities. Most SSA cities could collapse without paratransit services, evidenced by severe impacts on cities whenever transport operations suffer from supply disruptions including industrial strike actions by operators, fuel price increases, etc.

Paratransit is mostly managed by driver unions/associations, where they control the setup, organization, management, and operation of transport services. Despite their critical role in mobility and access, paratransit operations in SSA cities are highly inefficient 2 resulting in unequal access, congestion, road traffic crashes, and unsafe road environments. A key driver of this inefficiency is the limited and lack of equitable allocation of vehicles to routes. Typically, paratransit operators are not mandated to serve an entire area/route; they prioritize revenue where profitable routes are over-served leaving others under-served. The current paratransit allocation is erratic, dedicated to profitable routes, and unavailable on some existing routes and certain times of day (e.g., night-time). These conditions create supply uncertainties for passengers in accessing transport, unreliable revenue stream for paratransit operators, and unsafe road environment for pedestrians and passengers.

However, through the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS), basic data on paratransit service on routes, trips, stops, fares, and schedules have become available for some SSA cities. Specifically, GTFS data can facilitate the development of a Smart Paratransit Allocation System (SPAS) to assign vehicles/service efficiently and equitably to routes/zones towards enhancing access to transport services. Interrogating driver associations/unions about SPAS is crucial to co-produce the knowledge needed to improve paratransit service for all persons. Accordingly, this project seeks to survey and synthesize the perception of key stakeholders: driver unions, paratransit operators, passengers, and local authorities about how SPAS could be co-formulated, co-developed, co-implemented, and co-enforced in Accra and Dar es Salaam.