Results & Publications


Informal Transportation Counts – Reimagining the Techno-Social Infrastructure for Collecting Data on Informal and Shared Mobility

Global Network for Popular Transport

Production: Global Network for Popular Transport
Language: English

This is a Summary Workshop Report from the Global Network for Popular Transportation (GNPT), who led a workshop on Paratransit Day (16 March 2023) at the Transforming Transportation Conference in Washington, D.C., USA.

Paratransit Day was co-organized by the World Bank’s Sub-Saharan Africa Transportation Program (SSTAP), Digital Transport for Africa (DT4A), World Resources Institute (WRI), and the Global Network for Popular Transportation (GNPT). As part of the Paratransit Day’s activities, GNPT, which is a project of the Shared-Use Mobility Center (SUMC), ran this workshop – to reimagine the techno-social infrastructure for collecting data on informal and shared mobility in LMIcs. The participatory workshop asked these questions:

  • How can we bridge the existing global data gaps on informal and shared mobility in low- and middle income countries?
  • What techno-social infrastructure do we need to collect and maintain data on informal and shared mobility in low- and middle income countries?

More than fifty people joined the in-person workshop held at the World Bank offices in D.C. The participants were from different countries. Researchers, program officers, development officers, and transportation professionals were in the room. They represented nonprofits, private companies, development organizations, multilateral banks, and public institutions.

VREF sponsored the event as part of the Informal and Shared Mobility in Low- and Middle Income Countries Program (ISM) . The primary objective of the ISM program is to contribute to strengthening equity and sustainability in urban transport by supporting research that creates new knowledge to inform stakeholders better, to govern, design or develop informal and shared mobility, thereby contributing to better access to goods and services for all

Who counts what? What counts where? A global scan of data collection efforts in informal and shared mobility

Agile City Partners

Production: VREF
ISBN: 978-91-987715-0-3
Language: English

Study prepared by Agile City Partners, with support from VREF:s Informal and Shared Mobility in Low- and Middle-Income Countries Research Program.

 Connecting Informal Transport to the Climate Agenda: Key Opportunities for Action 

Anna Kustar, Iman Abubaker, Thet Hein Tun, Benjamin Welle

 Prepared by World Resources Institute (WRI)  with support from Informal and Shared Mobility in Low- and Middle-Income Countries Research Program, Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF)



Informal and shared mobility – A bibliometric analysis and researcher network mapping – VREF

Roger Behrens, Alexandra Newlands, Tamzyn Suliaman, Awot Gebregziabher and Dianne Steele

Production: VREF
Language: English

This study was commissioned by the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations to inform the content of the next phase of its Future Urban Transport programme. The aim of the study was to define the subject field (provisionally described by VREF as ‘informal public transport’ and ‘shared mobility’), analyse its bibliometric attributes. The study method involved an analysis of the nomenclature and focus of seminal or consolidating in-field literature to delineate the scope of the study, a systematic search of multiple platforms for in-field English language publications between 2010 and the present, the creation and augmentation of a database for bibliometric analysis, and a survey of leading researchers across eight global regions.

The subject field was divided into four main categories of passenger services (flexible transport, informal transport, shared mobility and for-hire transport), which sit between purely private transport and scheduled mass public transport, and can be found in various guises across the Global North and Global South. The timeline of innovation in the field reveals complex and multi-directional global diffusion of service innovations, triggered by changed operating environments and technology disruption.

It was found that research in this field is growing fast (doubling every four years). The recent literature is dominated by authors affiliated to universities in Europe, Eastern Asia and Northern America at a regional scale, and to universities in China and the United States at a country scale. Shared mobility (and bike-sharing, car-sharing and ride hailing in particular) has received most attention (62%), followed by for-hire transport (17%), informal transport (11%), and flexible transport (10%). Most publications concerning shared mobility and for-hire transport were produced by lead authors in China (19,3% and 44,1%), followed by the United States (15,0% and 9,9%). Most publications concerning informal transport were produced in South Africa (18,2%) followed by India (9,8%), and concerning flexible transport were produced in the United States (13,1%) followed by Australia (9,6%). There has been extensive international research collaboration, with collaboration between research institutions in China and the United States found to be particularly strong, as was collaboration between China and other East Asian countries. Somewhat paradoxically, while the quantity of collaborations with universities in Africa, Latin America, and Western Asia was relatively small, authors from many countries within these regions are most likely to publish through international collaboration. Citation networks between institutions followed a similar pattern to collaboration networks.

Geographical gaps in the literature were found, with heatmaps revealing countries, particularly in SubSaharan Africa, that received no dedicated research attention. While difficult to quantify, there were also indications of thematic gaps in the literature, or at least disparity between the prevalence of a service type and the number of publications about it. Most notably, compared to their global prevalence, bike-sharing, car-sharing and carpooling were well researched, compared to informal for-hire transport and informal public transport, which received significantly less attention.

Given the multi-directional innovation diffusion in the subject field, and the disparity of research capacity and output across regions, it is a field of inquiry that presents rich possibilities for global research collaboration in the next phase of the FUT programme. The survey of leading researchers suggested that: integrating with mass public transport services; serving the needs of vulnerable passengers; regulating service providers; introducing electric vehicles into shared mobility and informal transport fleets; and digitalising aspects of informal transport operations; are priority future research needs.