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Are Rural Road Investments Alone Sufficient to Generate Transport Flows? Lessons from a Randomized Experiment in Rural Malawi and Policy Implications

ACCESS TO MARKETS ACCESSIBILITY AFFORDABILITY OF TRANSPORT SERVICES AGGREGATE DEMAND BICYCLE BICYCLES BRIDGES BUS BUS LINE BUS OPERATION BUS OPERATOR BUS OPERATORS BUS PASS BUS PROVISION BUS RIDE BUS RIDERSHIP BUS RIDES BUS ROUTE BUS ROUTES BUS SERVICE BUS SERVICES BUS TRIP BUS TRIPS BUS USAGE BUS USE BUSES CAR CARGO CARS COST INCREASE DEMAND ASSESSMENT DEMAND CURVE DRIVERS EARTH ROAD EXPENDITURES FEEDER ROAD FEEDER ROADS FIXED COSTS FUEL FUEL COSTS FUEL EFFICIENCY FUEL PRICES HIGH TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS INFRASTRUCTURES INTERMEDIATE MEANS OF TRANSPORT JOURNEYS LOW VOLUME ROADS MARKET STRUCTURE MARKET TOWN MARKET TOWNS MEANS OF TRANSPORT MINIBUSES MOBILITY MODE OF TRANSPORT MODES OF TRANSPORT MOTORCYCLE MOTORCYCLES PASSENGER REVENUE PASSENGERS PASSENGERS PER DAY PASSENGERS PER TRIP PAVED ROADS PEDESTRIAN PEDESTRIANS PERSONAL MOBILITY POPULATION DENSITIES POPULATION DENSITY POTENTIAL DEMAND PRICE LEVEL PRICE LEVELS PRICE OF FUEL PRICE SENSITIVITY RECONSTRUCTION RIDER ROAD ROAD DEVELOPMENT ROAD INVESTMENT ROAD NETWORK ROADS ROUND TRIP ROUTES RURAL ACCESS RURAL AREAS RURAL DEVELOPMENT RURAL ROAD RURAL ROAD INVESTMENT RURAL ROAD INVESTMENTS RURAL ROADS RURAL ROUTES RURAL TRANSPORT RURAL TRAVEL SAFETY TIRES TRACTORS TRAFFIC TRAFFIC DATA TRANSPORT TRANSPORT COSTS TRANSPORT DEMAND TRANSPORT OPERATORS TRANSPORT POLICY TRANSPORT PROVISION TRANSPORT SERVICE TRANSPORT SERVICE PROVIDERS TRANSPORT SERVICES TRANSPORT SUPPLY TRANSPORTATION TRANSPORTATION STRATEGIES TRANSPORTS TRAVEL DISTANCE TRAVEL TIME TRIP DISTANCE TRIP PURPOSES TRIPS TRIPS PER DAY TYPES OF TRIPS URBAN CENTER VEHICLE VEHICLE OPERATING VEHICLE OPERATING COSTS VEHICLES WALKING WALKING DISTANCE
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World Bank, Washington, DC
Africa | Malawi
2014-08-29T19:00:11Z | 2014-08-29T19:00:11Z | 2011-01

This paper draws lessons from an original randomized experiment in Malawi. In order to understand why roads in relatively good condition in rural areas may not be used by buses, a minibus service was subsidized over a six-month period over a distance of 20 kilometers to serve five villages. Using randomly allocated prices for use of the bus, this experiment demonstrates that at very low prices, bus usage is high. Bus usage decreases rapidly with increased prices. However, based on the results on take-up and minibus provider surveys, the experiment demonstrates that at any price, low (with high usage) or high (with low usage), a bus service provider never breaks even on this road. This can contribute to explain why walking or cycling is so widespread on most rural roads in Sub-Saharan Africa. In terms of policy implications, this experiment explains that motorized services need to be subsidized; otherwise a road in good condition will most probably not lead to provision of service at an affordable price for the local population.

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