Transport and Covid-19: responses and resources

Roundtable on Informal Transport: Maximising societal benefits and minimising negative externalities

ITF Meeting ITF Meeting

In many emerging economies, informal transport forms an indispensable mobility service for millions of people. These services, sometimes called "popular transport", provide benefits including on-demand mobility, employment opportunities, and service coverage in areas devoid of formal public transport supply or for lower-income users. However, they can also generate negative externalities including traffic congestion, air and noise pollution, and crashes. Experienced transport quality by users can also be lower than adequate in some cases. Despite its importance, the role of informal transport has historically received less research attention than other transport domains. This is especially the case in mid-sized and less-dense areas, as most informal transport research focuses on experiences of larger, often capital, cities. 

This Roundtable provides analysis for ITF member countries on how the societal benefits of informal transport can best be maximised while managing its negative externalities. Drawing on several case studies from different regions, topics for exploration include:

  • The various forms, roles, and business models that informal transport takes for different types of urban and rural areas.
  • The extent to which informal services complement or compete with traditional public transport.
  • How digitalisation is affecting informal transport.
  • Social and economic effects of informal transport, including access and affordability for marginalised communities.
  • Options to reform informal transport systems which improve sustainability, safety, congestion, working conditions, and labour market outcomes.
  • Promoting fleet renewal among informal transport operators.

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