Vast numbers of people in rapidly growing cities throughout the developing world depend on informal transport services for their mobility needs. Thus far the field of transition studies has addressed the dynamics of socio-technical change in situations where regimes of automobility and sanctioned public transport constitute the dominant order, but not in contexts of cities in the developing world, where informal transit thrives. In this paper we enquire about stability and prospects for change in these kinds of socio-technical systems. To this end, we trace the evolution of Bangkok's motorcycle taxi industry including recent efforts to introduce a potentially radical innovation: an information and communications technology (ICT) platform used as a taximeter. The paper concludes that innovations in informal urban transport are opening up alternative mobility pathways for the developing world, which might even spread far beyond their original confines into the West; and that the persistence of informal transport systems and the proliferation of innovations within those systems in developing countries prove to be relevant phenomena for defining prominent topics on the agenda of (sustainability) transitions research.
- informal transport
- motorcycle taxis