Mass rapid transit (MRT) aims to improve traffic flows in African cities. Yet, further impact needs assessment. We explore MRT cases in the contexts of urban development to see if they promote inclusion. We ask how MRT links neighbourhoods, how it co-operates and how it affects local communities.
Mass rapid transit (MRT) projects- such as bus rapid transit, light rail or cable car projects in Lagos, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Kampala and Dar es Salaam - aim to improve traffic flows. These MRTs provide standardised service to all citizens boarding. They thereby stand in competition to growing fleets of private motor vehicles, while many residents continue to secure physical mobility across the city through walking, cycling or informal public transport. By placing responsibility for transport provision from the private and informal sector (back) into the hands of state control, the MRT projects are often seeking to substitute what has been described as "paratransit".
However, it has been critically questioned, which impact MRT projects have not only on existing transportation networks, but also on increasing the urban accessibility for low-income groups, based on the distribution of stages and affordability of fares.
Through contributions from case studies in African cities we seek to review MRT projects in the wider contexts of urban development. Beyond issues of congestion we explore if MRT projects can live up to the promise of furthering equity on the city scale by making mobility and thus access to places more inclusive. We ask how MRT projects link neighbourhoods of different socio-economic status and how they have to co-operate with other modes of transport to maintain criteria of affordability and reach. The panel will also include contributions on the impact of newly built MRT infrastructures on urban settings and how the change in connectivity has impacted on local communities.