The chaos of South Africa’s taxi system is being tackled with open data

Lynsey Chutel at Quartz: “On any given day in South Africa’s cities the daily commute can be chaotic and unpredictable. A new open source data platform hopes to bring some order to that—or at least help others get it right.

Contributing to that chaos is a formal public transportation system that is inadequate for a growing urban population and an informal transportation network that whizzes through the streets unregulated. Where Is My Transport has done something unique by finally bringing these two systems together on one map.

Where Is My Transport has mapped Cape Town’s transport systems to create an integrated system, incorporating train, bus and minibus taxi routes. This last one is especially difficult, because the thousands of minibuses that ferry most South Africans are notoriously difficult to pin down.

Minibus taxis seat about 15 people and turn any corner into a bus stop, often halting traffic. They travel within neighborhoods and across the country and are the most affordable means of transport for the majority of South Africans. But they are also often unsafe vehicles, at times involved in horrific road accidents.

Devin De Vries, one of the platform’s co-founders, says he was inspired by the Digital Matatus project in Nairobi. The South African platform differs, however, in that it provides open source information for others who think they may have a solution to South Africa’s troubled public transportation system.

“Transport is a complex ecosystem, and we don’t think any one company will solve it, De Vries told Quartz. “That’s why we made our platform open and hope that many endpoints—apps, websites, et cetera—will draw on the data so people can access it.”

This could lead to trip planning apps like Moovit or Transit for African commuters, or help cities better map their public transportation system, De Vries hopes…(More)”