Publication Detail

Urban Travel in Nairobi, Kenya: Analysis, Insights, and Opportunities


Journal Article

Urban Land Use and Transportation Center

Suggested Citation:
Salon, Deborah and Eric Aligula (2012) Urban Travel in Nairobi, Kenya: Analysis, Insights, and Opportunities. Journal of Transport Geography 22 (May 2012), 65 - 76

We use a unique travel survey data set from Nairobi, Kenya to explain why, where and how people in Nairobi travel and the implications of this behavior pattern. We provide both an in-depth exploration and analysis of the travel patterns and preferences of Nairobi residents and a discussion of the implications of these results for transport policy in this city.

The data show that the lack of suitable transport infrastructure exacerbates travel challenges for residents across all income groups. A substantial portion of the local population cannot regularly afford any form of motorized transportation. They thus are forced to locate in slums near sources of employment, and the widespread lack of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure increases the risk that they face when traveling. The middle income group who cannot afford private cars is almost completely dependent on the informal public transport system, which provides good geographic service coverage at the expense of service quality. Approximately 15% of Nairobi’s households own cars. Our analysis shows that without policies that make non-motorized transport safer and public transport service better, car ownership and use will increase sharply as the city’s residents become wealthier, further congesting already-overloaded roadways.

Keywords: Africa; public transport; travel survey; logit model