Digital Matatus

De Communauté de la Fabrique des Mobilites

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Espace d'échange synchrone (de type chat): [1]

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Short Description: Mapping of the paratransit network in Nairobi

Description: In Nairobi, more than 2 million of trip occurred per day and almost 52% are motorized. More than 700 000 people use the Matatu’s fleet every day, composed of several types of vehicles with 14-seater van, 25-30 seater minibuses and 33-45 seater buses.

The experience was drove by a group of universities (Nairobi, MIT and Columbia) to show how smartphone could help to collect data from informal transport system, and, with the financial help of the Rockefeller Foundation, they begin to map the 135 routes that compose the Nairobi’s Matatu system in order to produce a transport map and a GTFS feed.


Matatu's minibus.jpeg

Place for experimentation : Nairobi

Web Site:

Organisations involved in the project: Digital Matatus Team, Rockefeller Foundation

Organisation interested to participate / use deliverables: Matatu's drivers and owners, Nairobi population

Contributors (people):

Tags: Data collection, Paratransit, Nairobi, Digital Matatu, Modified GTFS

Theme: Données ouvertes, Traces de mobilité et des données associées, Ecoles et Etudiants, Logiciel Libre

Referent (people):

Challenge associated to your project : Using smartphones for mapping an informal transport network

Common(s) used: MyTracks, TransitWand App

Commun(s) produced: FlashCast Sonar, Ma3Route

Communauty of interest associated Communauté autour des traces de mobilité et des données associées

Advisor, mentor useful for the project

Project deliverables

Digital space for discussion (mailing list) :

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Digital space to share files (drive, wiki, etc...) : Map and GTFS file:

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Person trip by mode in Nairobi.jpeg

Data Collection Process

After a phase of identification of the matatu’s roads and stops, the students of the Nairobi’s University began to geo localize the stops and to collect the GPS Trace of the routes using MyTracks and TransitWand App.

Data processing and communication

Matatu Transport Map.jpeg

As this project was one of the first in this category, the team had to develop a modified GTFS standard for mapping the paratransit network. As there is no data available for schedule (stop_times.txt ) - they used frequencies of trips from the main terminus (at and off-peak hours) – they had to indicate those differences in the GTFS data format. The group added a “continuous stops” field to the stop_times and routes table to indicate that a route and its stops do not follow normal bus transit behavior. After that, there was a phase of identification and nomenclature of the different routes and stops that has been collected before producing the GTFS. Even if the stop_times field was composed of estimation and the fare one need some more average information, the GTFS was finally incorporated to some trip planner app like Transit or Google Maps and some application that provide routing information were developed like Ma3Route and FlashCast Sonar. The last phase was the production of the Nairobi transport map that regroup stop name and position, point of interest and the Matatu’s line. For the design of the map, they redraw the route on a grid base using 45 and 90° angle.


Nairobi's data Gitlab

Journal of Transport Geography - The digital matatu project: Using cell phones to create an open source