Dollar Van | dolla-van |


A privately owned type of bus service used to carry passengers.

Location / Harare City

Routes / 58

Completed / October 2015

Commission / Chicago Biennial


Route map and way-finding solution for informal urban public transport in a city marked by a decentralised system that includes over 4,500 individual owner operated vans. 


Dollar Vans is seen as an urban mapping solution for the transit network of any city that uses informal minibuses as the major transport. In spite of the care taken by state and local authorities to regulate the estimated 4,500 individual operators registered as commuter-omnibus owners, passengers have a difficult time navigating freely throughout Harare, Zimbabwe. Studio [D] Tale’s research team has been gathering information from commuters and professional drivers to design a map for the formal and informal transit networks in their city. Dollar Vans is a means to offer the convenience of wayfinding, hoping to allow people to get to know their city so that they may discover new neighborhoods through the intervention of low-cost, community-based design and research.


In the first month of mapping out the routes of minibus taxis in Harare, 1523 stops were geo-located using the Android smartphones of 6 volunteers who tracked 165 individual journeys around the city. Using Google pioneered GTFS – General Transit Feed Specification – that is used to define a common format for public transportation schedules and the associated geographic information, Studio [D] Tale mapped out 58 unique routes by taking about 300 trips around the city. This was done by using a third party Android application that generated the geo-location data needed for GTFS information. Studio [D] Tale seeks to explore hidden economies within our cities. In Africa this is seen through our work within informal sectors like transport.

L to R


Van drivers get informal uniforms showing their personal route numbers.


Way finding graphics for road stencils.


Informative decals for vans showing key points of interest along routes.



Hyperlapse video taken using a GoPro showing central bus terminal in the city of Harare, Zimbabwe. 

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