Redefining Urban Mobility in Africa

Justin Coetzee is Founder and CEO of GoMetro. He is a civil engineer by training, with a Masters Degree in Transportation Engineering. We chat about GoMetro’s approach, their projects in Kigali and many other African countries, how Africa can succeed, stakeholder collaboration, legislation he would change and his outlook on key technologies and the future.

Key Takeaways

Justin’s background and Go-Metro

  • Justin started his career wanting to build cities.
  • Every country gets to a point where roadbuilding doesn’t help anymore.
  • Justin realised you can’t build your way out of congestion and inefficient urban mobility.
  • Justin asked “where is the data” to plan big bus systems and large mobility investments, but there wasn’t much data.
  • How can we improve the way we move?
  • GoMetro is a flexible mobility platform.
  • Justin explains their approach of Measure, Model, Manage, Move!

Kigali bus operations re-design & development of a business model

  • Justin explains the project scope and key objectives.
  • GoMetro Pro was used to collect data on ridership and behaviors, route by route.
  • Justin explains how the app operated to assist data collection for the project.
  • The data told them how the transport network is operating, where congestion points are and suddenly you can answer questions about the vehicles and network’s optimisation. By solving this you can ask what the improvements available for the rider are.
  • GoMetro measures the data and the supply in a network, then unzip demand from supply. This enables redesign of operations.
  • Data helps answer thousands of questions!
  • In Kigali they redesigned 450 busses in fleet and 55 routes for optimisation.
  • This paved the way for a smarter contracting approach.
  • Major learning is once you collect enough data there’s no other way of planning public transport.

African countries and where they stand in Readiness

  • South Africa is undoing errors of a decade or more of planning, implementing and then collecting data on bus and public transport networks.
  • Better approach would have been to collect data first, before investing and building.
  • Covid-19 and change in travel patterns are accelerating use of data to bring minibus taxis into formal public transport fold.
  • Different levels of readiness in African countries.
  • Need institutions, governance and capacity to implement plans before you can bring about massive change.
  • Justin explains the exciting work they are doing in Malawi, Kinshasa, Tanzania, Botswana and Lesotho.
  • Future cities should be people centric and not car centric.

Stakeholder collaboration

  • Public and private sector are two different worlds.
  • Private sector want to move quickly. Public sector doesn’t want to get into trouble and need to consider all stakeholders.
  • The entire world wants to see Africa succeed.
  • For collecting data, planning, funding, building you can’t do it without institutions, governance and capacity and this should be everyone’s major focus.

Legislation Justin will change if he had the power

  • Need to price the social cost of cars much more closely to what they are.
  • Not a popular opinion but consider a carbon tax, vehicle surcharge tax, higher fuel level, bigger parking fees.
  • So that families don’t own 4 cars and drive of in 4 directions everyday.

Key future technologies

  • Relationship between personal information and privacy has changed.
  • Won’t go back to a world where privacy is an absolute right.
  • Justin explains the pros and cons.
  • Collecting data will become even more critical to prepare for the future and what questions we might need answers to.
  • Cashless payment is going to accelerate.

About Justin Coetzee

Justin Coetzee is founder and CEO of GoMetro. Justin is a civil engineer by training, with a Masters Degree in Transportation Engineering. Justin has served as Project Director for a large number of public transport planning, optimization, and technology projects in cities of Africa and Latin America. He recently directed paratransit operations and service reform projects in Mitchell's Plain, South Africa; and Kigali, Rwanda; in close collaboration with political stakeholders. He has directed several large-scale mapping and integrated planning projects for informal minibus taxis in South Africa -- in Gauteng (Johannesburg-Pretoria), Cape Town, Bonjala, Mbombela, Polokwane, and Rustenberg. Justin also has directed a groundbreaking project with PRASA, South Africa's national rail agency, to provide real-time journey plans vis the GoMetro Move app, which has been downloaded by over 1 million commuters across seven cities. Currently, Justin is serving as project director for a groundbreaking 29-city Latin America Urban Mobility Observatory in collaboration with CAF and IADB. Supporting the above projects and others, Justin has led GoMetro as CEO to develop cutting-edge Big Data, passenger, and fleet management technology to support public agencies and operators. These products include the award-winning GoMetro Pro data collection app, GoMetro Move journey planning app, GoMetro Fleet software for fleet management, web and intercept survey software, USSD feedback technology, and user movement analytics. Justin's extensive experience in project management, technology product development, and leadership -- in collaboration with civic and political stakeholders in less developed countries -- make him a valuable addition to any urban mobility technology project. 

About GoMetro
GoMetro is a leading international provider of mobility technology and planning solutions for public transport challenges.  GoMetro delivers award-winning mobile technology, desktop applications, and expertise to support professional public transport data collection, planning insights, fleet management, and mobile technology. 

Using data driven insights, GoMetro has advised cities such as Cape Town, Johannesburg, Tunis, Kigali and others on how to optimize their formal and informal transport services and has implemented its multi-modal commuter app to support millions of public transport trips across several South African cities.

GoMetro’s end-to-end public transport technology and planning solutions help governments, transport authorities, county councils, transport operators and transport consultants. GoMetro experience has been that deliverables are mostly defined by the Client, with some input by our team where requested.

GoMetro South Africa is a BBBEE level 2 contributor company.


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