Journal article

Improving paratransit service: Lessons from inter-city 'matatu' cooperatives in Kenya

Research Areas

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Publication Details

Author list: Behrens R, McCormick D, Orero R, Ommeh M

Publisher: Elsevier

Publication year: 2017

Journal: Transport Policy

Volume number: 53

Start page: 79

End page: 88

Total number of pages: 10

ISSN: 0967-070X


While providing essential access for large portions of city populations,
the quality of paratransit services in Sub-Saharan African cities is
poor. Poor quality of service can be attributed to two features of the
paratransit business operating model: driver remuneration on the basis
of a daily ‘target system’; and cash-based business management in which
vehicle depreciation is ignored as an operating expense. In Kenya, the
voluntary organisation of fragmented inter-city matatu businesses into
Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) has resulted in improved
service, regulatory compliance and technology adoption, but little is
known of how they operate. The aim of this paper is to gain insight into
how the Kenyan inter-city matatu SACCOs are organised and have improved
services, and to explore the transferability of this experience and the
lessons it offers. The exploratory nature of the study, and constrained
resources, necessitated that the research adopt a qualitative case
study method. It was found that most of the case study SACCOs have
addressed the root causes of poor service quality by shifting the
remuneration of drivers from daily cash targets to salaries, and by
requiring vehicle depreciation costing through compulsory contributions
to the cooperative's capital savings from which vehicle acquisition and
repair loans can be derived. Due to the particular shuttle-like nature
of inter-city services and the considerable institutional support that
exists in Kenya for cooperatives, the direct transfer of successes to
other contexts is likely to prove difficult. Identifying the features of
the inter-city SACCO model that have led to paratransit service
improvements, and attempting to replicate these, may therefore be more
effective than attempting to replicate the model in its entirety. These
features are argued to be operator consolidation, accompanied by
salaried drivers, systematic vehicle monitoring and compulsory vehicle
depreciation costing. They can be adopted in other forms of paratransit
organisation and regulation, but will require considerable adaptation to


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Last updated on 2017-30-11 at 09:40