Paper presented at the 28th Annual Southern African Transport Conference 6 - 9 July 2009 "Sustainable Transport", CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, South Africa.
Paratransit services form an integral part of passenger public transportation networks in many developing world cities. In some instances these entrepreneurial services deliver highly demand responsive, affordable transport in settings not conducive to scheduled or 'formal' public transport operations. In others, they present problems in the form of ruinous and violent competition between operators for higher volume routes, 'cream skimming', and aggressive driver behaviour. As in contemporary South African lntegrated Rapid Public Transport Network proposals, public authorities across a range of international contexts have responded to these problems by planning integrated public transport networks within which paratransit operators are given the opportunity to become contracted service providers alongside existing rail and bus companies. Despite some well-publicised successes in integrating paratransit operators into 'formal' public transport systems, the available evidence suggests that processes of paratransit integration are typically protracted and at times difficult to sustain. Even in relatively successful cases, many 'informal' operators have not been included in these processes, and their services have remained in parallel to the improved 'formal' networks. Managing the interface between the resulting 'formal' and 'informal' systems has often proved a complex and difficult task.
This paper reviews selected international cases in which interventions were made to either bring about greater regulation of paratransit services, or to integrate paratransit operations into 'formal' transport networks. The first part of the paper outlines the rationale for selecting specific cases for detailed review. The second part illustrates the nature and extent of the interventions in the selected case cities, the manner of interaction with paratransit operators, and the respective impacts on competition, service provision and institutional arrangements. The paper concludes by drawing lessons from these experiences for processes of paratransit integration in South African cities.
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