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In South African cities the majority of commuters are served by a relatively unregulated transit system that includes walking and catching a minibus taxi. There is little infrastructure to support these informal transit options, and there is sometimes conflict between informal transit operators and formalised services like bus and commuter rail operations; and often tension between informal operators and private car users.

There is a need to ask questions about how best to make space and provide infrastructure for pedestrians and other non-motorised transport modes in our cities. Tanya Zack will discuss her research about the trolley-pushers who are a key part of the waste recycling industry in Johannesburg; and Andrew Wheeldon, from Benbikes, will share his experience of promoting cycling as a mode of transport in Cape Town.

This seminar also presents an opportunity to think about South African cities in the future where movement systems are more sustainable and integrated. Richard Dobson from ‘Working for Warwick’ will explain how this strategic transit hub in Durban has included informal sectors of the economy through participative development and operating strategies. Finally, Thabisho Molelekwa, spokesperson for the SA National Taxi Association, will share the taxi industry’s experience of shifting from informal and unregulated operational models to more formal transport services like the Rea Vaya bus concession in Johannesburg and the Santaco airline that is operating a service from Johannesburg to the Eastern Cape.

Each presenter will discuss the opportunities and challenges presented by informal movement systems, and share experiences and lessons about how to take advantage of opportunities and confront problems in this space.


  • Melinda Silverman, University of the Witwatersrand


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