Trotros and taxis are vital modes of public transportation as they help address the mobility needs of transportation-disadvantaged groups in Ghana. There have been perceived safety concerns related to public transportation in terms of road crashes in the Kumasi Metropolis. This study analysed and evaluated comparatively the safety of the use of trotros and taxis for public transportation. To realise the aims of this study, information was elicited from operators and passengers of the two modes using questionnaires. In addition, road traffic crash data was obtained for the study area and analysed. General field observation was used to obtain additional inputs on selected roads within the metropolis. The study established that both trotros and taxis are the major modes of public transportation in the metropolis. In terms of safety, there are similarities in trends for both modes for all accident categories, except for fatalities which showed a significantly increasing trend for trotros compared to that of taxis. Most of the safety issues associated with the two modes were partly due to traffic management and partly due to inadequate infrastructure. It is concluded that despite the similarities in operations, traffic conditions, routing, and accident trends and types, taxis as a mode of public transportation in the metropolis are generally safer compared to trotros.

1.1 Background
Public transportation is an integral part of national development. When cities expand, due to growth in economy, public transportation provides necessary access and mobility to citizens. The composition of public transportation in Ghana is mainly trotro and taxis. These modes identify with lower income earners for their commercial interactions and private purposes. A significant number of Ghanaians fall into this category and this makes public transportation (trotro and taxis) a vital component of the national economy. When public transportation is properly managed and made attractive, some aspects of safety and congestion concerns can be greatly reduced. However public transport faces severe problems in almost all countries of the developing world, although the situation varies from one country to another (Pucher et al, 2004).

The rapid growth of Ghana's urban population coupled with the collapse of the rail network has put enormous strains on the other urban transport systems. Problems such as road traffic accidents, congestion, noise, air pollution (carbon and toxic gas emissions) among others are prevalent. There is concern that in developing countries, very little attention is given to these critical problems in public transportation.

1.2 Overview of Public Transportation in Ghana
When economic activities increase or when there is population growth such as communities expanding into cities, household settings and activities change. This causes people to make more trips. In the past few decades, such changes have been so rapid that development of public transportation seems to always lag behind. It is therefore, imperative for government to invest in the transport industry for people to get safe, reliable, accessible and comfortable means of moving about.

Public transport is a shared passenger transport service which is available for use by the general public and may be provided by one or more private transport operators or by the government. In Ghana, the modern public transportation system dates as far back as 1898 when the first rail line was constructed from Takoradi to Tarkwa mainly for the commercial exploitation of gold and timber; movement of people became a by-product as a result. In 1927, the Accra Town Council operated bus services in Accra. Governments over the years have established bus service companies such as the Omnibus Services Authority (OSA), State Transport Company (STC), City Express Services (CES), and lately Metro Mass Transit (MMT) Limited. These were introduced for various reasons including government‟s social obligations, environmental factors, energy considerations and the promotion of efficient public transportation to increase productivity and economic growth (Yobo, 2013).

The problems associated with public transportation are enormous and mostly observed in developing countries such as Ghana. A glimpse of the national outlook suggests that there is rapid demographic and economic growth, and since successful growth is linked to improved mobility of people, the transportation industry must develop at equal pace, else a substantial level of anxiety and discomfort among commuters will be created. The emergence of commercial motorcycle transport gives an indication of inadequate public transport services. Road transport services provided by operators in both the formal and informal sectors have been characterized by very harsh uncertainty factors which have contributed to the low levels of transport services in the industry. Prominent among the uncertainty factors are:

* Reliability 
* Safety
* Environmental and economic factors

Observably, there is limited regulatory/institutional effectiveness and lack of a clear and comprehensive policy on public transport. Vehicle operators are subjected to minimal regulations in terms of the authority to operate as commercial vehicles, area of coverage, safety standards of operation, maintenance of vehicles and related emissions and following any regular schedule.

This situation has led to freedom to enter the sector and the liberty to leave at will. According to the Ministry of Transport, the urban public transportation is now dominated by the informal private sector which provides about 95% of transport services but their services are generally unreliable, uncomfortable and unsafe (Wilson, 2006).

Finance is a limiting factor due to the huge capital outlay for public transport operations. The operations are mainly foreign exchange driven; vehicle spare parts, maintenance equipment, tyres and fuel all need to be imported. In spite of the fact that managers of public transport fail to incorporate asset replacement policies and programs in their corporate plans, gains recorded in their operations which could be used to finance asset replacement programs are eroded in no time by inflation and other negative features present in the economy.

The sustenance and growing concern of public transport is, therefore, disturbing to the extent that to replace vehicles, especially at the end of their useful lives becomes very difficult. The vehicles get older, cost of operations and maintenance soar up, eventually either the safety of the vehicle is compromised or its operations grind to a halt.

1.3 Road Safety Challenges
Road safety is a major problem, as motor accident rates recorded year on year basis are rising and often resulting in loss of life, severe injuries inflicted on victims and substantial damage to property, as well as lost time and effort of road regulation authorities. According to the National Road Safety Commission Annual Report for 2011, during the 7-year period from 2002 to 2008, the number of people killed on Ghana‟s roads averaged 1,840 annually. In a country where so many options are not available for transporting goods and people, road travel becomes the only available option. Patrons of the road transport must adjust to the uncomfortable probability of a fatality situation.

The National Road Safety Commission has indicated that, despite huge investments in road safety by way of education and publicity, motor accidents constitute a real menace to transportation. It is estimated that road traffic crashes costs Ghana about 1.6 % of her GDP (US$ 165 million in 2006). Available statistics point to rising absolute fatalities (NRSC, 2011). The existing scenario suggests the current rising trends in population growth and vehicle ownership could lead to further increases in the number of road traffic crashes if serious efforts are not made to reverse the upward trend.

This research focused on the safety aspect of urban public transportation particularly taxis and trotros, since road traffic accidents cause significant damage to national progress in terms of fatalities, damage and loss of property. It is important to put the  issues into an engineering perspective, where specific safety concerns are examined in detail and a suitable solution developed to address the problem.

1.4 Trotros and Taxis in Ghana
Minivans operating in the public transportation business called trotros in Ghana are peculiar to third world countries and provide a vital public service by transporting up to twenty passengers around the city and countryside. The trotro system works around a tenet central to Ghanaian society: waiting for fully loaded vehicle before setting off. There is no scheduling, no map outlining routes and no advance tickets sold. One just has to wait at the side of the road to board them. Geared toward the needs of the masses, trotros are privately owned and operated. Trotro is often operated by both a driver and a conductor called a mate (who collects money, shouts out the destination). The mate will hit the roof and side of the van to attract passengers and notify the driver when to stop or leave a bus stop. Used by almost 70% of Ghanaian commuters, trotros are the most popular form of transport for work and shopping in the country as of 2010. In Ghana, trotros are licensed by the government, but the industry is arguably self-regulated. In the absence of a government controlled and regulatory frame, groupings called syndicates oversee the operations of the trotros. These groups may collect dues, set routes, manage terminals, and fix fares. Such syndicates include GPRTU and PROTOA (Blaustein, 2010).

In Ghana, taxis typically operate in a shared mode although use by a single passenger or a small group of passengers is also possible. Trotros and taxis operate along specific routes with pick-up and drop-off locations being determined by the service provider, not by the passenger, although demand responsive transport and shared taxis provide a hybrid.

1.5 Problem Statement
In the developed countries, analyses are frequently made to determine what role vehicle safety improvements play in the historically low fatality and injury rates. Concern therefore arises because in a developing country such as Ghana, it is very rare to see new vehicles being used in urban public transportation and hence unlikely to benefit in the immediate future from the vehicle safety improvements. Efficient safety analysis of the current fleet becomes inevitable if any safety standards are to be met.

There also exist the perception of disconnect between the safety issues on roads, regulations and the improvements required to deal with the problems. Government policy generally tends to concentrate efforts on the concerns of road congestion and accessibility. There are several reasons why road safety is not treated in a proactive manner but rather reactively. One of such is the lack of available data and analysis for evaluating the safety and comprehensive analysis of urban public transportation.

In confronting these issues in a holistic manner, researches are conducted and various recommendations implemented, monitored and evaluated to ascertain if there is an improvement in the initial condition. Unfortunately, the main modes of public transportation (trotros and taxis) in the country have been the subjects of little published research and despite their significance within modern society there is very little literature available. Research into the safety of public transportation is scanty and mostly generalized; this makes it difficult in finding specific engineering solution to the problems. One way of attempting to compensate for these problems is to limit the scope of this research to the essential groups of public transportation of which trotro and taxis are the most popular.

It becomes vital to focus research on the safety of the popular modes of public transportation to ascertain its specific effects on public transportation and serve as a bench mark to evaluate new modes and guide any eventual introduction into the transportation system.

With the sprawling residential development and economic growth in urban areas, public transportation activities will necessarily increase and become diversified with time. Care must be taken because there are enormous losses when road traffic accidents occur as all sorts of transportation modes are introduced unto the network. These can be enumerated as:

* The trauma of death after losing a relative
* Damage to property and injuries
* The loss of productive capacity
* Resources for investigations by the police and insurance companies.

This implies much work must be done in understanding the causes of motor vehicle accidents in urban public transportation, and in developing possible preventative measures that would avoid or minimize accidents.

It becomes so important therefore to investigate the safety trend and its implications, analyse the data collected to aid a better perspective and a regulatory framework on the issue of safety in urban public transport systems.

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Item Type: Ghanaian Topic  |  Size: 66 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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