I seem to be doing a series of “Things I Say To My Students that They Don’t Believe” series, unintentionally.
My students tend to think of modes in terms of competition, and that’s not really the case at the system level, particularly for transit, and it’s very seldom true at the trip level for those of us who use the system. Buses are useful for distribution, just like walking is. Trains are useful for line-haul portions of the trips. Cars can do both distribution and line-haul, so can walking, so can bikes–it’s a matter of scale. For cars, distribution occurs on minor streets, line-haul on major streets and freeways, etc.
So what does the mini-bus drivers strike in Kenya illustrate? Well, it’s the complementarity of functional specialization of transit modes in highly congestion settings: mini-bus drivers are apparently carrying an enormous amount of passenger traffic which would–and is in their absence–crushing the train system. Those are *big trains*, folks. I haven’t seen their operating frequency, but that is a big train to be a stuffed as it is. At least the men on top of the train seem to be having a good time.*