Commuting in Urban Kenya

In Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi, streets are regularly gridlocked with a mix of cars, trucks, and matatus – the vans that serve as the city’s primary means of public transport. While it is clear that roads are congested at peak hours, it is not known which commuters are experiencing that congestion or what their commute times actually are. This paper contributes new evidence on commuting in urban Kenya from a survey of 15,000 households, conducted in 15 Kenyan cities by the World Bank in 2013. Most households in urban Kenya have basic access to motorized public transport, but higher income households as well as those residing farther from the city center are more likely to use it. The most surprising findings from these data pertain to commute times. Commuters in the smaller Kenyan cities have relatively short commutes; the median commute time is just 20 minutes. In Nairobi, the median commute time is 30 minutes, and 5% of those surveyed reported commuting an hour or longer. Further, in every city surveyed, motorized commute times were substantially longer than walk commutes; a relatively small minority of commuters walk more than 20 minutes each way, but the average duration of motorized commutes is much longer. Further research is needed to gain a better understanding of how much households are limiting their choice of where to live in order to avoid an arduous commute, and what that means for quality of life.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper was sponsored by TRB committee ABE90 Standing Committee on Transportation in the Developing Countries.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board

  • Authors:
    • Salon, Deborah
    • Gulyani, Sumila
  • Conference:
  • Date: 2019


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 10p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01697399
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 19-03111
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Dec 7 2018 9:26AM