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Integrating Public Transport: Rethinking the role of the Minibus Taxi Industry













Finding ways to better integrate the minibus taxi (MBT) industry into the public transport system is a critical urban policy challenge in South Africa. The industry is the backbone of public transport in South Africa’s cities – currently transporting over 65% of urban public transport commuters – this is likely to remain the case for the foreseeable future. It is a major economic sector in its own right, a key area of black economic empowerment and an industry with huge scope for innovation and development. It is also an industry with many challenges, including governance, regulation, infrastructure, operations, the economic model and the delivery of a commuter-friendly service.

In recent years, the focus of public transport reform and public investment has been on establishing city-controlled BRT systems and strengthening the rail mode under PRASA as key components of the rapid public transport networks envisaged in the national Public Transport Strategy. The role of the MBT industry in this has been neglected and the areas of change, such as taxi recapitalization and the inclusion of parts of the industry in the various BRT initiatives, have been partial efforts that have not addressed the key obstacles to improving MTB services and developing the industry as a full partner in delivering public transport services.

 There is a growing recognition that the focus on building public transport networks now needs to be complemented by reflection on the role of the MBT industry. There is also considerable urgency to this.

There is however growing instability in the industry as a consequence of deepening economic and social pressures reflected in an escalation of violence and taxi-industry related killings around the country. The respective roles of provincial and city governments in regard to the industry are also currently in a state of flux as government works through the implications of implementing the NLTA. This uncertainty and instability poses real risks for public transport reform agenda.

At the same time, a unique opportunity exists for national, provincial and city governments and the industry to develop a fresh approach to regulating the industry and providing the infrastructure and other support it needs to flourish. The next-generation public transport interventions should support major improvement and development of the MBT sector, including better integration with the urban public transport system.

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The programme

The course is designed to facilitate a dialogue between the cities, the MBT industry and other government and non-government stakeholders about the future of public transport in South Africa’s cities and how the MBT industry should be supported in the short and long term to play a constructive role in the development of effective and efficient public transport networks.

The course programme is structured around three focuses:

A vision for the MBT industry as part of an integrated public transport system.

  1. Understanding the rules of the game.
  2. Facilitating business development and innovation.
  3. Facilitating business development and innovation.


What do participants gain from attending the course?

  •  A deepened understanding of the “informal” minibus taxi (paratransit) sector, its role in the urban public transport system and how it contributes to urban development and human settlement.
  • Enhanced knowledge of the critical role of the informal paratransit sector in addressing gaps in the public transport system and its flexibility and adaptability.
  • An understanding of the importance of understanding and working with the “business model” of the industry in trying to craft effective policy and support interventions.
  • A deepened understanding of how change in the sector can be facilitated and supported.
  • Enhanced knowledge of both the substantive issues of how the minibus taxi sector can be better integrated with other public transport modes as well as the process issues.
  • Participants will gain consolidated knowledge of emerging new thinking into a more coherent integrated framework for more effective government action in these areas.


Who should attend the course?

The course is targeted at decision-makers or policy influencers in the urban public transport arena in South Africa, particularly local, regional and national level officials and decision-makers in the government sector who engage the MBT industry.


Upcoming courses

This course is not currently scheduled for delivery in 2016.