Is Informal Transit Land-Oriented? Investigating the Links Between Informal Transit and Land-Use Planning in Quito, Ecuador
Like many Latin American cities, Quito has undergone rapid urban transformation due to transportation interventions aimed at improving equity and environmental outcomes. Yet, informal transport continues to be a viable strategy for low-income residents living in peripheral areas to move around, as cities are still built up through a relationship between informal and formal systems. There is a long and rich tradition of Latin American peripheral urbanization through unregulated or illegal processes tied to auto construction (Caldeira 2017). In this context, this paper seeks to analyze the relationship between informal transit and land use in Quito, Ecuador. It asks if informal transit is land-oriented. It seeks to discover how informal transit route decisions are made, if land use regulations have any influence, what type of spatial patterns arise, and the impacts on individuals. However, it is unclear how and where informal transit operators place routes, which may or may not deviate from standard routes of formal transportation services.
The analysis directly adds to transit-oriented research by uncovering the nature of the relationship between land use regulation and informal transportation. We use a variety of research methods: interviews, participant observation, sample survey, and GPS technology. The initial findings demonstrate the importance of social networks in neighborhoods, and how informal transportation routes provide connections between rural-urban, and urban-peri-urban areas, that might be a continued and necessary option for cities. Informal transportation lines operate in dense urban areas regulated by land use, as well as connecting modes for formal transit that is integrated with the public transportation network. The high incidence of informal transportation lines in the fastest growing areas of Quito seems to indicate where land markets are burgeoning.