Public Transport in South Africa

Case Summary: 

The development objectives for public transport projects include improving efficient mobility and inclusive access to jobs, services, and socioeconomic opportunities, while also minimizing negative externalities such as local and global emissions, traffic injuries, and fatalities. To this end, many cities are implementing mass transit solutions, including BRT, which integrates dedicated road infrastructure, specialized vehicles and stations, advanced payment and management systems, and other features to maximize the efficiency, attractiveness, and sustainability of bus services. The main challenges include traffic congestion, a lack of priority for public and nonmotorized transport, maintaining affordable fares while minimizing public subsidies, and market failures leading to poor operating and maintenance practices, underinvestment, and poor performance in the sector. Residents of South Africa’s large cities, particularly the poor, suffer from long commutes and large spatial mismatches between jobs and housing as a legacy of apartheid. About two-thirds of public transport trips in South African cities are by paratransit by minibuses, the predominant transport mode for the working classes due to their affordability and ubiquity. Paratransit is usually a demand-responsive, self-organized service by an association of vehicle owners that contract drivers on a daily revenue target system and respond quickly to urban growth. Paratransit business models and relatively weak regulation enforcement contribute to cut-throat competition, reckless driving behaviors, and poor-quality vehicles, which in turn lead to excessive emissions and other negative impacts

Action Area 
Planning and Implementation Activity 
Developing and Implementing Policies and Measures
Sectors and Themes 
World Bank
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