As part of the economic evaluation of the new bituminised road between Thuchi and Nkubu, in the Meru District of Kenya, a series of rural household and travel and transport surveys were undertaken over six years covering the
period both before and after the road was opened.
Household size, land holdings and cash income increased over the period of the surveys, although the new road was not thought to have been a major influence on these characteristics. Prices of the main cash crops, coffee and tea, fluctuated strongly and this was an important factor in household incomes. In 1983, before the road was opened, an average of 5 vehicle journeys were made by each household per month. This rose to 11.2 journeys in 1986, but had declined to 8.4 journeys per month by 1989. It is believed that the change in journey making was influenced by a combination of factors including changes in household income and the influence of the new road as well as changes in passenger fare levels and the influence of wet weather at the time of the surveys.
The most reliable estimate of the elasticity of journey making with respect to fare levels was calculated to be about -0.6 and with respect to household incomes about +0.3. Dry season fare levels on earth and gravel roads were
estimated to be about 60% higher than on bitumen surfaced roads, rising a further 39% in the wet season. Fares on bitumen roads were unchanged during the wet season.
Travel frequency was found to be strongly related to cash income. Men made more journeys and travelled further than women. Women tended to make more journeys for health and trading.