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With much of Africa currently in or beginning to emerge from COVID-19 restrictions, city dwellers have abandoned their typical travel habits. Where they once squeezed into shared vans and matatus or rode the bus rapid transit lines in Dar es Salaam, and Cape Town, they are now limiting their trips.

Worldwide, the use of public transport has declined up to 90% since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Urban planners and transport managers fear that COVID-19 could have a lasting impact on public transport and accelerate the region’s unsustainable move toward car ownership.

This is an opportunity to improve public transport across the continent. Such investments will improve African urban mobility in the long run, avoiding the massive traffic jams characteristic of so many African cities, and keep the climate-friendly improvements in air quality that have marked urban life during the past two months.