MobiliseYourCity highlights importance of paratransit during Side Event at the 2nd UN Global Sustainable Transport Conference



Over 50 participants joined paratransit experts and MobiliseYourCity partners at MobiliseYourCity Side Event at the 2nd UN Sustainable Transport Conference to formulate recommendations for decision-makers to reform paratransit to ensure a fair transition towards low-carbon urban transport in the Global South. 

The discussion brought together Dario Hidalgo, Executive Director of Fundación Visión Cero, Benjamin de la Peña, CEO of the Global Partnership for Informal Transportation and Anne Patricia Mariano, Mobility Advisor at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit.

The speakers discussed why paratransit is essential for sustainability, outlining its many benefits as a source of jobs and accessible transportation to many segments of society. They argued in favour of the coexistence of informal and formal services, which can each play a pivotal and complementary role if well integrated. They also underlined the limitations of paratransit as a major cause of health and environment damaging pollution, as a source of congestion and traffic accidents, and as a sector providing very poor working conditions.

Despite reaching a consensus on the need to reform the sector, the speakers debated the approaches and measures to facilitate the integration of paratransit so that formal and informal services can complement one another.

The discussion led to the formulation of the following recommendations:

  1. Before attempting to reform the sector, decision-makers need a thorough and precise understanding of paratransit in their city
  2. If there is neither an adequate level of funding nor institutional capacity, it may be better not to attempt a complete reform within a relatively short time horizon (two-three years)
  3. Negotiating with incumbent operators (and sometimes powerful bus companies) is a delicate and challenging process, and governments must be ready to compensate the incumbents
  4. Policymakers must carefully examine the potential pathways for reform and calibrate realistic expectations
  5. Fiscal and financial instruments, like targeted tax breaks and subsidized loans to paratransit operators, should be more widely deployed to help them to improve their vehicles
  6. Policymakers and planners should recognize and find ways to maximize the adaptive potential of informal transportation systems as an asset for a well-functioning and resilient transport system
  7. Social safety nets should be expanded to millions of people whose livelihoods depend on providing paratransit services

Watch key messages and recommendations from the discussion here or take a look at the document summarizing them here.