An evaluation of transit systems for a rapidly growing city in a developing country

Abiodun Olatunji Odunmbaku, University of Pennsylvania


The study analyzes trends and policies regarding developments of public and private transport in large cities of developing countries. The importance of public transport for these cities is extremely great because of their large low-income populations. It is found that improved public transport is the basic component of any solution for improvement of mobility and reduction of congestion and chaotic traffic conditions in these cities. Most cities cannot afford to build a road network required to accommodate unrestrained travel by private automobiles. Considerable economies and improved services can be achieved by better organization of present buses and jitneys, but the modes cannot by themselves provide either required high capacities or improved levels of service in major, heavily travelled corridors in large cities of developing countries. Due to the chronic street congestion, the required improvements can be achieved only by construction of separate rights-of-way transit systems. Although this requires a substantial investment, it is in some cases the only physically possible and most cost-effective solution. Instead of simply transplanting standard rapid transit systems from developed countries, developing countries must select their systems with a careful analysis of their specific physical, economic and social conditions. They must focus on maximum economy in construction and operation of these transit modes. A comprehensive methodology for selection of transit modes is developed with special attention to the needs of the developing countries. Quantitative and qualitative elements are included. All existing, tested modes on separate right-of-way, such as bus on busway, light rail transit and rapid transit have been analyzed. In many cases light rail transit can achieve performance close to that of rapid transit at a lower cost. This mode is, therefore, a prime candidate for many cities in developing countries. The developed methodology has been applied to a major corridor in Lagos, Nigeria, which is typical for conditions found in many similar, rapidly growing Third World cities. The procedure from definition of requirements to final selection of mode is presented. Light rail transit is found to be optimal with the provision for its later upgrading to rapid transit.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Odunmbaku, Abiodun Olatunji, "An evaluation of transit systems for a rapidly growing city in a developing country" (1988). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI8816210.