Part of: Toward Efficient Informal Urban Transit

Informal Transit in Asia: Minibuses and Rickshaws


The development of informal transit systems in Asia varies across countries, making it difficult to present a general pattern. Minibuses and three-wheelers are commonly used in Asian cities.

A jeepney in Olongapo City, Philippines. Jeepneys, also known as “King of Road,” are American jeeps that were refurbished after WWII. Photo by Jayel Aheram / Flickr.

Mini-buses in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Source: GIZ

Autorickshaws line up outside a railway station in Mumbai, India. Photo by Aashim Tyagi / WRI India. 

Three-wheelers called ‘tuk-tuks’ are a common sight in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo by Didier Baertschiger / Flickr.

  • Informal systems in Asian cities are dominated by three-wheelers, which can be motorized or non-motorized. The operators usually lease or own their vehicles. 
  • They often serve first- and last-mile needs of users such as going to markets or schools, carrying food and other goods, or getting to or from drop off points for larger transit systems.
  • Because of their affordability and flexibility to navigate into neigborhood streets, motorcycles and motorcycle taxis are gaining popularity in Sub-Saharan African and Latin American cities.

Market size of auto-rickshaws for selected Indian cities, 2010

Source: Mani, Pai, & Aggarwal, 2012