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Priority infrastructure for minibus-taxis: An analytical model of potential benefits and impacts


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Many governments in the global south are grappling with challenges of improving the quality of informal transport, and an inability to pay for service improvements. This paper asks the question whether efficiency benefits might be gained through strategic implementation of once-off infrastructure interventions providing priority to informal vehicles at intersections. We note that informal drivers already indicate this demand through (illegal) driving behaviour in traffic. We use a drone to observe indicative behaviours among minibus-taxi drivers in South Africa. We identify interventions that would formalise this behaviour: a single lane pre-signal strategy, queue-jumping lane, and dedicated public transport lane. The objective of the paper is to quantify the potential economic impacts of such treatments on minibus-taxi operators, passengers and other road users. The findings indicate that substantial savings could be realised in terms of travel time, user cost, and operating cost to taxi passengers and drivers without additional costs being incurred by other road users. The single-lane pre-signal strategy, the queue-jumping lane and the dedicated taxi lane saw a decrease in total hourly cost of 12%, 14% and 30% respectively, including construction cost, user cost, and agency cost, indicating a net social benefit. If part of these savings were passed on to passengers, priority infrastructure could serve as an implicit subsidy to public transport users.

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