Before the openMatatus project, the matatu buses of Nairobi operated in a no-man’s land of organization, with each driver responsible only for his own small piece of the puzzle. The minibuses were not owned by a government agency and fares were unregulated, contributing to uneven fare prices, lax safety regulations, and overly centralized and congested routes.
University of Nairobi, Columbia University’s Center for Sustainable Urban Development , MIT’s Civic Data Design Lab , and Groupshot are working toward standardizing and opening transit data for Nairobi’s Matatus — the informal and de facto city bus system — and expanding our findings, tools, and processes globally. Building on past Kenyan-based digital mapping efforts and open source transit software, the group will produce a comprehensive framework for collecting, opening and mapping Matatu transportation data toward a mobile and equitable Nairobi.
Currently underway, a primary round of data collection and local student design workshops are growing the understanding of this otherwise misunderstood and complex system. The first series of tools will be entering development this spring to improve on data collection and transport information management in the decentralized Matatu system. This project uses Nairobi’s active mobile phone community to develop a standardized Matatu bus route for Nairobi informal buses. By developing crowd sourcing applications we hope people in Nairobi can develop, contribute, maintain and own their own transit information.
The openMatatus project:, Maps Modernize Informal Transport in Nairobi