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Context and evidence on benefits & problems

Taking a fresh look at policy objectives and information relating to the current situation, as well as evidence regarding what could be achieved in the future, can play a powerful role in changing attitudes and opinions.

This section provides background information and cross-city comparison based on TRANSITIONS research, in relation to existing attitudes and policy positions, IPT network characteristics, as well as the benefits and problems associated with IPT.   


Informal Public Transport performs a valuable role in the cities of Sub-Saharan Africa, but suffers from a negative image that has even led to city-wide bans on some occassions. Changing attitudes towards the industry, and the introduction of positive policy positions and frameworks, are required in order to maximise benefits and reduce the problems that do occur.

IPT networks have emerged organically in response to demand and opportunities, shaped by trial and error, the location of available terminals, and perhaps also coordination or ‘turf wars’ among operators. Over time, they may exhibit rigidities of their own, such as the establishment of terminals in consolidated parts of the city and the union/membership associated with key routes or corridors.

Informal Public Transport provides a largely affordable, flexible form of urban mobility. Within the urban centres of Africa that are often dominated by the informal economy, it also provides an accessible and affordable form of urban logistics for the large number of traders, many of whom are women, and businesses. 


Whilst getting to and from employment is a significant focus for why people travel, it is only one of number major reasons people use Informal Public Transport. Shopping, maintaining social networks, undertaking administrative visits to banks and offices and accessing education were also found to be significant.

Passengers frequently have concerns about their safety when making journeys using IPT. These include concerns for the quality and roadworthiness of the vehicles they travel, the daily risk they face from being involved in road crashes from poor driver behaviour and operating practices of the drivers and workers and from the risk they face as passengers from theft and other crimes and sexual harassment and assault from staff and other passengers.  


People with disabilities make up 15 percent of the world’s population and yet in many cities across the world, IPT systems fail to provide for their needs. This adds to the poverty and exclusion that many face. There is a need for both operators and policy makers to serve their mobility needs and to deliver the globally agreed goals for accessible transport systems for all.  

Informal Public Transport vehicles consume large quantities of fuel, predominantly diesel. When viewed over these vehicles’ long working lives, IPT vehicles in African cities produce significant volumes of airborne emissions both daily and cumulatively. This is not only a problem in terms of transport-sector greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as it also negatively impacts the quality of air that passengers, vehicles crews and those on and near roads breathe.

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