[Report] One-day seminar – “Paratransit and urban mobilities: Spaces and contemporary challenges” – Presentations will be available shortly!

[Report] One-day seminar – “Paratransit and urban mobilities: Spaces and contemporary challenges” – Presentations will be available shortly!
Cooperation in Egypt and (Sustainable Urban Transport) Community of Practice Project Manager
CODATU News Tuesday 12 April 2016

one-day seminar on Paratransit

The one-day seminar on Paratransit, jointly organised by CESSMA (UMR 245) and ESPACE (UMR 7300) in partnership with CODATU, was conducted on March 10th 2016 in Paris, at the Université Paris Diderot. Proposed as an discussion event to bring together students and researchers to start analysing Paratransit operations and recent evolutions on various contexts, the one-day seminar benefitted from presentations from different research domains that highlight its diversity.

Opening session

The opening session was chaired by Gilles Guiheux, Léa Wester and Rémi Desmoulière. Subsequently, Xavier Godard introduced the session with a presentation that analysed the definition of Paratransit services. The proposed definition considered the complexity of the sector and its evolution. Pertaining to the french term – Transport Artisanal –, this definition focuses on the sector’s high degree of ownership fragmentation, but it also includes its the sector’s inherent adaptability of operations and its relative lack of adequate regulation.


In the first of three presentations, Didier Plat, Aliou Ndao and Eliott Ducharme presented their analyses on Dakar, secondary cities in Senegal and Amman, respectively. In Dakar, Didier Plat utilise a recent set of data from a mobility survey to highlight the role of Paratransit services in reducing accessibility differentials for high-income inhabitants and medium and low-income populations. Indeed, analyses showed a spatial-based difference: low-income sectors are more inclined to use informal services than medium-income areas; the latter, in turn, depend more on other Paratransit services than higher-income populations.

Similarly, Aliou Ndao, in his study of mototaxis in secondary Senegalese cities found that the emergence of such services is supported by the need for mobility solutions for large sections of society. Authorities will then attempt to introduce regulations but not necessarily eradicate services; however a lack of strong institutions and resources to implement regulations can quickly become obstacles.

Eliott Ducharme, when explaining the case of Amman, shows a substantially different situation but that also highlights the difficulties authorities might find when trying to accept and include Paratransit services. In this context, the city’s recent BRT programme overlooked Paratransit services by not including them in planning and envisioned networks and, in most extremes cases, forgot them all together in published documents.

The session’s chairman, Frédéric Audard, pointed to the relationship between typical socio-spatial differences in cities of the Global South and a Paratransit-dependent mobility. Be it to access employment areas or for any other type of journey, Paratransit services offers substantial alternatives in terms of modes, regulation and service quality that explain the sector’s recent and continuous development.

Presentations: (available shortly)


The second session started with the presentations of Hind Khedira on the Rabat-Salé case, of Arnaud Serry on the post-soviet cities in Europe, of Abdelhakim Kebiche sur the Setif case and of Pablo Salazar Ferro on the Buenos Aires case. Grouping several points of vue and a large geographical coverage, the session focused on complementarity prospects between Paratransit and Formal Public Transport modes.

Hind Khedira explained that, after the tramway implementation in Rabat-Salé, collective taxis quickly reorganised and adapted their terminal stations to best take advantage of new spaces close to the tramway network and offered feeder services.

Arnaud Serry, in his analysis of the “marshrutka” evolution in different cities showed the distinct strategies of authorities pertaining to Paratransit that ranged from reintroduction of regulatory frameworks to fully prohibition of operations. In all cases, Paratransit modes persisted and adapted to new operational contexts.

In Algeria, as explained by Abdelhakim Kebiche, the french term ‘Transport Artisanal’ is not the preferred term because this implies that there are benefits to their current state and it would thus complicate Paratransit-Formal modes integration in Sétif. Nevertheless, and irrespective of the preferred term, clandestine services have substantial credibility for users.

Finally, Pablo Salazar Ferro introduced the case of Buenos Aires’ ‘charters’, et particularly of ‘charters’ operating on high-income areas. Displaying a recognised adaptation capability and basing its analysis on the role these services have in the city, the question of if these services are complementary or competition to Formal Transport but also to private motorised transport was evoked.

Chantal Chanson-Jabbeur was in charge of chairing the session. All presentations highlighted the interest of developing Paratransit-Formal services complementarity, but they also showed the complexities, most notably for authorities, that come when attempting to implement such complementarity schemes.

Presentations: (available shortly)


The third and last presentation and discussion session’s topic was the organisation and the regulatory framework for Paratransit services. Works by Walter Kouamé Kra, Léa Wester, Rémi Desmoulière and Assogba Guézéré (presented by Pablo Salazar Ferro) analysed the cases of Abidjan, Lima and Brazzaville, Jakarta and Lomé, respectively.

In the first presentation, Walter Kouamé Kra described the links between criminality and Paratransit services in Abidjan; he went on to explain how the organisational structure of Paratransit is founded on violence and how violence is rooted deep in the system thus requiring urgent regulatory options. Léa Wester, using as her method a comparison between Paratransit in Lima and Brazzaville (including a model of existing networks) introduced and used the concept of self-organisation. This concept highlights organisation and management logics of routes and how their impact polarisation in the system.

Rémi Desmoulière, after describing the component of regulatory frameworks in Paratransit services, explained how the regulatory mechanisms benefit local decision-makers, owners and intermediaries organisations in Jakarta. From his analysis, he concludes that a contractualisation between State and Paratransit operators is likely to be implemented.

The fourth analysis in charge of Assogba Guézéré focused on the mototaxi sector of Lomé and how authorities reform approaches towards theses services have evolved. Beginning with the former demonisation of the sector, followed by its development and the acknowledgment that they play a large role in providing mobility options today, the most recent perspective will likely gain from analysing previous experiences in South-East Asia.

Discussion for this third session was chaired by Laurent Faret, and it focused on the complex relationships between owners and drivers. Whether ultimately using a salary for drivers as an integration tool is a valid question. However, integration must also account for a territorial component.

Presentations: (available shortly)


Closing the one-day Seminar, a roundtable was organised and chaired by Mr. Julien Allaire, and proposed to answer the question of what the prospects for flexible transports are (this considering that flexibility is a characteristic advantage of the Paratransit sector).

The objective was to analyse the potential interest Formal modes can have of studying Paratransit modes from the Global South while also looking at the new range of possibilities offered by new communication technologies. Arnaud Dauphin from AFD explained that Paratransit is now considered a part of the solution, partially because of reduced financing options to build infrastructures and because of the development of car-sharing options. Nicolas Louvet of 6T agreed with this analysis and suggested that fewer cities will have the funds to invest in large infrastructures for mobility and that non-institutional services (in the likes of Uber) are a valid offer for populations. Richard Darbéra of LATTS explained then that, previously, metered taxis used to have substantial profits but that they can no longer continue with this trend and, as a result, more flexible options are likely to replace them.

Partenaires associés

CESSMA – (Centre d’études en sciences sociales sur les mondes africains, américains et asiatiques)

Le CESSMA Centre
d’études en sciences sociales sur les mondes africains, américains et asiatiques
est une unité mixte de recherche (UMR 245) créée en 2014 à triple tutelle : l’Université Paris Diderot, l’Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (Inalco), l’Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD).
Le laboratoire a pour mission l’analyse des configurations historiques et spatiales des dynamiques de développement et de mondialisation. Qu’ils viennent de la tradition des aires culturelles ou des études sur le développement, l’ensemble des membres de l’unité partagent une même pratique des sciences sociales marquée par l’interdisciplinarité, le comparatisme et le dialogue avec les partenaires scientifiques des mondes qu’ils étudient.
L’unité est multidisciplinaire et rassemble historiens, géographes, sociologues, anthropologues, économistes, démographes et urbanistes. Les terrains d’enquête sont en Amérique centrale et du Sud, en Afrique et dans le monde arabe, en Asie du Sud, du Sud-Est et en Asie orientale.

Pour plus d’informations : http://cessma.univ-paris-diderot.fr/

UMR 7300 E.S.P.A.C.E.

Le laboratoire ESPACE regroupe des géographes, sociologues, historiens, anthropologues de 3 Universités de PACA (Aix-Marseille Université – AMU-, Avignon et Nice) et du CNRS pour analyser les dynamiques du territoire : logiques de peuplement, systèmes urbains, organisation spatiale, aménagement du territoire, environnement.

Les travaux concernent aussi bien la recherche fondamentale, en particulier en analyse spatiale et en modélisation, que des travaux plus appliqués répondant aux questionnements des gestionnaires du territoire.

Pour plus d’informations : http://www.umrespace.org/