Infrastructure and operations
Stark contrasts are evident in the quality of transport infrastructure in the cities of Sub-Saharan Africa, ranging from modern city centres to rudimentary, un-paved roads in rapidly urbanising hinterlands. Given the emphasis on providing clean and affordable mobility for all citizens, an infrastructure investment strategy supporting the role of IPT services could be expected to focus on getting the basics right: comfort and safety for passengers, together with priority measures on the highway for shared mobility. Examples of IPT-oriented infrastructure projects and good practice case studies are limited, hence learning must also be drawn from more general guidance for public transport and multi-modal interchange provision.
Overview of types of actions
This category of actions encompasses both ‘hard’ infrastructure measures and ‘soft’ management measures, the latter of which seek to optimise the use of available highway and terminal space to achieve efficiency and safety aims. During the TRANSITIONS research work, both passengers and union/association representatives highlighted the deficiency of existing terminals/stations, identifying that even simple improvements would make a substantial difference for passenger comfort.
As listed in the table below, potential actions for infrastructure improvements extend well beyond terminals, to the provision of dedicated lanes for public transport (including informal public transport) and designation of bus stops with suitable shelter and safe curb-side spaces for waiting passengers. In some areas of cities, improving the basic road surfaces may be the priority as this will contribute significantly to passenger comfort, as well as vehicle efficiency and speed.
Where hard infrastructure improvements are made, then consideration also needs to be given to management and enforcement requirements to ensure they are used in the way intended. Taking into account the capacities of relevant public authorities, concentration of enforcement resources around key ‘bottlenecks’ and connections in the transport network may well be most realistic. The table below identifies the main types of actions that could be undertaken.
Experience and perspectives from the TRANSITIONS cities
TRANSITIONS did not undertake surveys of infrastructure provision, the quality of terminals and conditions ‘on the road’ and on the roadside. Nevertheless, perspectives have been gained through a combination of the local knowledge of the City Research Leaders and feedback received in the stakeholder interviews and passenger opinions surveys.
IPT terminals - The condition of terminals have been a particular focus of discussion given their pivotal role as multi-modal interchanges and as an important part of the passenger experience. Accra provides an example of a city where the condition of the terminals was identified as a priority area for improvement by passengers. In the case of the Kimbu Terminal, the main yard area for Trotros to wait and load passengers is unpaved, resulting in a dusty environment on dry days and muddy conditions during the rainy season. Association representatives identified that simple measures such as spreading chippings across the yard would already make a difference, indicating that the public authorities could undertake this type of action.
Passengers also identified the absence of and/or uncleanliness of seating areas, and lack of public facilities such as toilets. Similar problems were identified in Freetown, where the waiting conditions for IPT crew and passengers are uncomfortable. Observations on the terminals in Freetown also highlight their important function as retail centres, with people making quick purchases of items from street hawkers. This creates a vibrant environment, but also one with reduced security and increased stress, with a risk of pick-pocketing and passengers sometimes feeling ‘forced’ to board certain vehicles by a driver’s assistants.
Taking into account that the capacity of terminals is limited and that IPT vehicles often also queue on neighbouring roads, this can results in an uncomfortable and disorienting environment, particularly for those with mobility impairments.[i]
Kumasi provides an example of where a modern terminal design has been delivered, which helps with the identification of important design elements. The Kejetia Transport Terminal was recently transformed from a largely ‘open air’ facility into a modern building providing an IPT terminal and off-street parking, as well as restaurants, a police station and offices (see Figure 14). Taking the perspective of IPT operators and passengers, then important considerations include:
Many trotros seek to avoid queuing in the terminal located inside the new building, by enabling passengers to board and alight on main road. This causes congestion as visible in the photo, and therefore both design and enforcement measures need to be carefully considered to ensure efficient vehicle flow in and around terminals.
Retail space is provided on an upper floor, rather than alongside the terminal, which may reduce the number of ‘convenience’ purchases made.
Attention needs to be paid to the design of pedestrian infrastructure, to enable safe and convenient access to the terminal across highways.
Where such important and necessary investments in terminal infrastructure are planned, then proper consideration needs to be given to all forms of mobility and the needs of stakeholders and businesses that use these spaces (see recommended resources).
IPT priority lanes and road conditions - Provision of priority lanes for IPT services arose in the passenger opinion survey in Cape Town, perhaps due to their existing experience of the existing priority measures on the N2 freeway (passengers in other cities may not have prior knowledge of these types of actions).
One study undertaken in South Africa observed that IPT drivers already undertake illegal driving manoeuvres to create their own priority, and the research sought to understand what efficiency benefits might be gained through implementation of once-off infrastructure interventions, such as: pre-signal lanes, queue-jumping lanes, as well as dedicated public transport lanes. The findings indicated that substantial savings could be realised in terms of travel time and operators’ costs, ranging from 12% for smaller interventions to 30% in the case of dedicated lanes.
In the case of Maputo, ‘bad road conditions’ was in second position, in terms of the number of respondents that identified this as an aspect of IPT services where improvements are most important. In this regard, many passengers differentiated between the poor condition of access roads, in comparison to main trunk routes.
NODES Toolbox - The NODES project, co-funded by the European Commission, developed a Toolbox to help practitioners to assess and benchmark and design new and upgraded transport interchanges (multi-modal mobility hubs) to provide improved intermodality, safety and liveability: https://civitas.eu/tool-inventory/nodes-toolbox
Bus Priority Infrastructure Planning Toolbox – Transport for New South Wales, Australia, has published a Bus Priority Infrastructure Planning Toolbox that provides good illustrations of several forms of priority measures: https://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/system/files/media/documents/2021/Bus-Priority-Infrastructure-Planning-Guide.pdf
30. Tichaeur, C. and Watters, M. 2008 ‘N2 BMT lane – a first for South Africa’ - https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/N2-BMT-lane-a-first-for-South-Africa-Tichauer-Watters/f2a4be0dbe772447467ab359504c7573c6402273
31. Western Cape Government, 2009. Bus and Minibus Taxi Lane Operation Nets 122 Offenders - https://www.westerncape.gov.za/news/bus-and-minibus-tax-lane-operation-nets-122-offenders
32. Study by De Beer and Venter, 2019. Priority infrastructure for minibus-taxis: an analytical model of potential benefits and impacts.
33. See for example Cisse, 2020. Adapting first world systems to improve African mobility - https://www.intelligenttransport.com/transport-articles/95942/adapting-first-world-systems-to-improve-african-mobility/
34. Study by De Beer and Venter (2019) ‘Priority infrastructure for minibus-taxis: an analytical model of potential benefits and impacts.