Purpose - Sub-Saharan African cities suffer from poor quality transport options, excessive congestion and pollution. The informal transport sector contributes to these problems, but also represents part of the solution. This chapter reflects upon research undertaken to better understand the nature of these services, in the hope of providing insights into possible remediation. Design/methodology/approach - Three case cities were studied: Cape Town; Dares Salaam; and Nairobi. Each was examined by resident universities with respect to the quantity and quality of paratransit services provided, user satisfaction, business models and industry governance. Findings - Each city has differences, but there are recurring themes. All are experiencing population growth and increased motorization, which steadily deteriorates operating environments. Law enforcement capability is limited and sometimes impeded by corruption. Operating enterprises tend to be fragmented. Financial resources are typically limited such that vehicle maintenance and replacement suffers. The safety and quality of service for passengers are therefore often poor. The prevalence of paratransit services is, however, such that any strategy to reform public transport systems needs to consider a role for them within a scheduled-paratransit hybrid network. Numerous challenges will need to be overcome for successful integration, but significant improvements to service quality can be made in the near- to medium-term through supporting interventions in business development, operating environment, vehicle fleets and operations. Research limitations/implications - Extension of the research programme could yield some significant improvements to operations and financial sustainability, through the piloting of innovative, lower cost technologies based on smartphone and other ICT technologies. Originality/value - The chapter reveals that significant improvements to service quality can be made in the near- to medium-term through supporting interventions in business development, operating environment, vehicle fleets and operations.