Regulation of the informal transport sector in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Welfare impacts and policy analysis

Aaron Golub, Ronaldo Balassiano, Ayres Araújo, Eric Ferreira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


In Brazil, the explosion of informal transport activity during the past decade has had profound effects on formal public transport systems and is a source of great controversy in the urban transportation sector. A variety of policies have been proposed to manage the growth of the sector. This study seeks to understand how proposed policies will impact the users of these systems. A corridor in Rio de Janeiro with substantial informal activity was used as a case study. Measures of welfare changes in a discrete choice framework were used to estimate proposed policies' impacts on users. Eleven candidate policies were evaluated, ranging from the eradication of the informal modes and investment in formal modes, to the legalization of the informal modes. Benefits were compared with costs and the distribution of benefits across income classes was explored. Net benefits from some policies were found to be substantial. Legalizing the informal sector was found to benefit users slightly but further investments in the sector are probably inefficient. Users benefited most from improvements in formal mass transit modes, at roughly 100-200 dollars per commuter per year. Finally, policies to foster a competitive environment for the delivery of both informal and formal services were shown to benefit users about 100 dollars per commuter per year. Together, the regulation of the informal sector and investments in the formal sector serve to reinforce the movement towards competitive concessions for services and help reduce the impacts of cartelization and costly in-road competition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-616
Number of pages16
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2009


  • Brazil
  • Informal transportation
  • Jitneys
  • Regulation
  • Welfare

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Development
  • Transportation


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