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Engaging paratransit on public transport reform initiatives in South Africa: A critique of policy and an investigation of appropriate engagement approaches


  • Schalekamp, Herrie
  • Behrens, Roger


A number of South African cities are planning integrated public transport networks that rely on the introduction of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), in line with similar trends to expand or upgrade public transport services in emerging and industrialised urban transport markets around the globe. In addition, BRT in South Africa is being used as a mechanism to drive reform in the dominant yet highly fragmented paratransit sector, inspired by similar processes particularly in Latin American cities such as Bogotá, Mexico City, and Santiago de Chile. Thousands of paratransit operators would have to formalise their businesses, or merge into new or existing operator entities in order to participate in the new systems. There is, however, an absence of accessible business plans and regulatory regime proposals around which paratransit can be engaged to convince it to alter its current modus operandi. A large number of national, regional and local paratransit groupings have furthermore indicated their resistance to the planned networks on the grounds of insufficient consultation, an unclear future role in the system and employee redundancies. Should this deadlock not be resolved, it seems unlikely that the planned networks will be realised in the proposed timeframes, if indeed at all. This paper investigates the South African passenger transport policy framework that has contributed to the current deadlock, and explores appropriate approaches to engaging paratransit operators on a system of contracting, competition and ownership that recognises the sector's aspirations and fragmented nature, yet contributes towards improved passenger transport services. It is the authors' view that paratransit reform is a highly context-specific process, even at the sub-city level, and that this could prevent transferring paratransit regulatory and integration approaches across countries, and even cities in the same country, without adaptation to local conditions.

Suggested Citation

  • Schalekamp, Herrie & Behrens, Roger, 2010. "Engaging paratransit on public transport reform initiatives in South Africa: A critique of policy and an investigation of appropriate engagement approaches," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 371-378.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:retrec:v:29:y:2010:i:1:p:371-378

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cervero, Robert, 2001. "Informal Transit: Learning from the Developing World," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt9z37m0t1, University of California Transportation Center.
    2. Walters, Jackie, 2008. "Overview of public transport policy developments in South Africa," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 98-108, January.
    3. Cervero, Robert, 1992. "Paratransit in Southeast Asia: A Market Response to Poor Roads?," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt6533b9wk, University of California Transportation Center.
    4. Barrett, Jane., 2003. "Organizing in the informal economy : a case study of the minibus taxi industry in South Africa," ILO Working Papers 993581583402676, International Labour Organization.
    5. repec:ilo:ilowps:358158 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Sohail, M. & Maunder, D.A.C. & Cavill, S., 2006. "Effective regulation for sustainable public transport in developing countries," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 177-190, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Salazar Ferro, Pablo & Behrens, Roger & Wilkinson, Peter, 2013. "Hybrid urban transport systems in developing countries: Portents and prospects," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 121-132.
    2. Schalekamp, Herrie & Behrens, Roger, 2013. "Engaging the paratransit sector in Cape Town on public transport reform: Progress, process and risks," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 185-190.


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