So what is informal transportation?

Informal transportation comes by many names: matatus, tro-tros, caminionetas, collectivos, jeepneys, autorickshaws, trisikads, minibuses, mega taxis, tuktuks, okadas, moto-dubs, etc. —two wheels, three wheels, or four; human powered or engine powered—informal transportation very likely moves and employs more people than all the city trains, buses, and taxis around the world. They provide mobility and livelihoods for mostly low income and the poor.

Informal transportation is: 1) ubiquitous in the global south; 2) ignored in policy; 3) despised in planning; and, 4) represent probably the single greatest lever to decarbonizing the transportation sector.

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Silicon Valley unicorns get all the love but mobility innovations from the bottom up are making cities and the planet better for the people who use and who operate informal transport. (Especially the urban poor.) My hope is we can mobilize the world’s attention and resources to empower the transformation of makeshift mobility in our cities.

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Benjie de la Peña
I’m a strategist and design thinker and I work on urban development issues related to technology, sustainable transportation, and informal systems.