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Cities Research Seminar Series: Formalizing Informal Public Transport: Pilot test of GPS technology in La Paz

The model of operation of informal transport in La Paz (as in other Latin American cities) has led to poor quality of service due to a number of causes including: (i) lack of mechanisms to exercise effective control of the operation, (Ii) lack of adequate incentives for owners and drivers (iii) lack of information on transport demand and fleet operation for transit authorities and passengers, and (iv) inadequate fleet procurement schemes. This informal way of operating has led to an oversupply of vehicles (it is estimated that the annual growth of the public transport vehicle fleet in La Paz is 7%), which translates into an increase in congestion levels and high emissions of greenhouse gases and local pollutants. The inadequate incentives further lead to poor quality of service due to excessive competition between drivers in what has been termed the “war of the penny”. Working with the city of La Paz, WRI proposed to carry out a pilot project that will allow to test the performance of GPS technology in an informal transport system, and evaluate the utility of this tool as a way of achieving a city-wide scale transformation and improvement of the quality of service. The seminar will explore the challenges currently faced by the city', and will discuss the different ways of achieving a formalization of the transport system, arguing why a technology based approach may have the greatest chance of success.

Speakers: Diego Canales and Sebastian Castellanos

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