Theses Master's

Governance and Transportation in Nairobi, Kenya: Understanding How Policy, Planning, and Levels of Governance Alter Mobility through a Multi-Modal Network Analysis

Stokes, Anna

The matatu paratransit network has been an integral part of Nairobi, Kenya’s urban fabric for decades, providing an accessible transportation option to the vast majority of its residents (Salon & Aligula, 2012). However, because of a growing desire to tame the city’s congestion and improve overall transportation options, the devolution and decentralization of the Kenyan Government through the new 2010 Constitution, and the availability of funding from a series of international players, a new emphasis on transportation planning efforts which feature designs and plans for the implementation of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system has emerged (Onyango & Agong, 2018). Although some pieces of the new Nairobi BRT system have been implemented, it still remains unclear what political processes and institutional structures influenced the development of the transportation plans for this system, and to what extent this planning process considered Nairobi’s current transportation system and habits, which are heavily reliant on the matatu paratransit network.

In Nairobi, BRT has been advertised as an extraordinary low-cost solution that will not only resolve the cities congestion issues, but help it gain more global capital and economic development opportunities. This is not unique, but is actually part of a broader trend where BRT has become the preferred transit mode for international development organizations. However, as is evident by the study of Nairobi’s transportation planning efforts concerning the implementation of BRT, these systems are not without their own issues, and they may not be the best solution. As BRT continues to be touted as catch all transportation solution for cities with large paratransit networks throughout the world, transportation planners and policy makers would benefit from a deeper understanding of what has been happening concerning the planned future BRT system in Nairobi.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Meisterlin, Leah M.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 17, 2019