PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Bus lanes can support Nairobi commuter rail

This development is long overdue. A capital city needs an advanced public transport system.

In Summary

• The revitalised Nairobi Commuter Railway is expected to soon carry 3,000,000 passengers every month

• Presently Nairobi relies on 18,000 matatus to transport people to and from work

President Uhuru Kenyatta flags off the Diesel Multiple Units shortly after unveiling the refurbished Nairobi Central Railway Station. The Station was reconstructed as part of the ongoing modernisation programme of the Nairobi Commuter Railway Service
President Uhuru Kenyatta flags off the Diesel Multiple Units shortly after unveiling the refurbished Nairobi Central Railway Station. The Station was reconstructed as part of the ongoing modernisation programme of the Nairobi Commuter Railway Service
Image: PSCU

On Tuesday,  President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the Nairobi Commuter Railway (Read story here).

Three trains every morning and evening to Embakasi, Ruiru and Kikuyu are expected to carry up to 230,000 passengers daily once the NCR is in full swing.

This development is long overdue. A capital city needs an advanced public transport system.

 

Presently Nairobi relies on around 18,000 matatus (out of 700,000 vehicles in the city) to transport workers to and fro.  The matatu system is much maligned but is essentially efficient. It should not be dropped or replaced.

But Nairobi needs more than matatus and a few commuter trains. It needs a public transport system that is easier and more cost-effective than driving in a car. 

Ultimately Nairobi will need an underground rail system but that would be too expensive today. The cheapest and most effective alternative is to have dedicated bus lanes on the main highways. A bus lane was marked on the Thika Highway but was never activated. If affordable comfortable buses travel without stopping from Thika to CBD, people will stop using their cars.

Bus lanes are the logical next addition to the Nairobi Commuter Railway.

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Yasser Arafat
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