in: Case Studies on Transport Policy, first published 26.04.2022
Small and medium-sized buses that operate in an unscheduled manner, called paratransit, have become the primary means of public transportation in African cities. Despite the stress and unfair labour conditions that paratransit drivers endure, it is unclear why some drivers are willing to join formal bus services such as bus rapid transit while others resist. Whereas paratransit drivers have the autonomy to make daily decisions, formal drivers follow strict schedules. We surveyed paratransit drivers in Accra to examine how they respond to losing control of daily decisions to identify the factors that influence their participation in formal transportation under different financial incentives. The results show that although increasing financial incentives attract most drivers, the desire to control their own decisions and unpleasant past experiences with formal services influence participation. Our models show that age, ownership of vehicles, and preference for regular or irregular income are important factors influencing their participation. Policymakers and bus reform implementation agencies should consider that some paratransit drivers are not interested in the benefits of formal services but prefer the autonomy associated with their daily decisions.