The regulation of urban public transport in developing countries [Published as: Managing public transport in developing countries: stakeholder perspectives in Dar es Salaam and Faisalabad]
2008-11-05T14:09:51Z (GMT) by
Most developing country governments face the dilemma of how to promote affordable public transport for the urban poor, in the context of the established trend to turn to the private sector for the provision of public transport services. In developing countries, the general outcome is a large number of individual operators whose main aim is (not surprisingly) to maximise profits. The drive for profitability can be achieved by increasing efficiency and cutting bloated costs, but may also lead to unfavourable behaviour that can adversely affect passenger safety and comfort and could also damage the urban environment. Perceptions of users of public transport are important as these perceptions determine attitudes towards the service. This paper presents a comparison of user attitudes in two cities in Africa and Asia with a population in excess of 2 millions: Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and Faisalabad (Pakistan). The views of stakeholders were established as part of a wider DFIDsponsored study of ‘Partnerships to improve access and quality of urban public transport for the urban poor’ and used content analysis, literature reviews, historical analysis, case studies, focus group discussions, forums and workshops. The stakeholders involved included users, particularly passengers from low-income households, providers and operators of services, drivers and conductors, and regulatory agencies. The outcome suggests the need to find new methods of regulation and control, reflecting the new situation where large numbers of private sector operators rely upon individually-owned small vehicles, instead of a public sector monopoly which ran large buses less frequently in search of presumed economies of scale. The challenge is to find a way to regulate and control this multiplicity of small businesses in such a way as to retain the cost minimisation pressures of the profit-seeking private sector without sacrificing safety, health or quality of service. This challenge has been met by the Faisalabad Urban Transport Society (FUTS), which is effectively a public-private partnership, and which provides a useful model for reconciling the interests of multiple stakeholders.