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Non-motorized public transport : a global review and analysis of trends and issues

  • Rahman, Mamun M.
  • D'Este, Glen
  • Bunker, Jonathan M.
Publication Date
May 25, 2010
Queensland University of Technology ePrints Archive
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Over recent decades there has been growing interest in the role of non-motorized modes in the overall transport system (especially walking and cycling for private purposes) and many government initiatives have been taken to encourage these active modes. However there has been relatively little research attention given to the paid form of non-motorized travel which can be called non-motorized public transport (NMPT). This involves cycle-powered vehicles which can carry several passengers (plus the driver) and a small amount of goods; and which provide flexible hail-and-ride services. Effectively they are non-motorized taxis. Common forms include cycle-rickshaw (Bangladesh, India), becak (Indonesia), cyclos (Vietnam, Cambodia), bicitaxi (Columbia, Cuba), velo-taxi (Germany, Netherland), and pedicabs (UK, Japan, USA). --------- The popularity of NMPT is widespread in developing countries, where it caters for a wide range of mobility needs. For instance in Dhaka, Bangladesh, rickshaws are the preferred mode for non-walk trips and have a higher mode share than cars or buses. Factors that underlie the continued existence and popularity of NMPT in many developing countries include positive contribution to social equity, micro-macro economic significance, employment creation, and suitability for narrow and crowded streets. Although top speeds are lower than motorized modes, NMPT is competitive and cost-effective for short distance door-to-door trips that make up the bulk of travel in many developing cities. In addition, NMPT is often the preferred mode for vulnerable groups such as females, children and elderly people. NMPT is more prominent in developing countries but its popularity and significance is also gradually increasing in several developed countries of Asia, Europe and parts of North America, where there is a trend for the NMPT usage pattern to broaden from tourism to public transport. This shift is due to a number of factors including the eco-sustainable nature of NMPT; its operating flexibility (such as in areas where motorized vehicle access is restricted or discouraged through pricing); and the dynamics that it adds to the urban fabric. Whereas NMPT may have been seen as a “dying” mode, in many cities it is maintaining or increasing its significance and with potential for further growth. --------- This paper will examine and analyze global trends in NMPT incorporating both developing and developed country contexts and issues such as usage patterns; NMPT policy and management practices; technological development; and operational integration of NMPT into the overall transport system. It will look at how NMPT policies, practices and usage have changed over time and the differing trends in developing and developed countries. In particular, it will use Dhaka, Bangladesh as a case study in recognition of its standing as the major NMPT city in the world. The aim is to highlight NMPT issues and trends and their significance for shaping future policy towards NMPT in developing and developed countries. The paper will be of interest to transport planners, traffic engineers, urban and regional planners, environmentalists, economists and policy makers.

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