, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 28 – A shuttle bus dubbed ‘Smart Bus’ has been launched in Nairobi to ferry passengers from designated parking lots into the Nairobi city centre and back.
The Smart Buses are intended to ease traffic congestion in the Central Business District (CBD). Passengers headed to the CBD can park their cars at the designated lots and take the buses into the city centre.
Nairobi Metropolitan Development Minister Njeru Githae said on Wednesday that smart cards rather than cash will be used in the buses, which will operate on assigned routes and also have a timetable of operation.
“They will keep scheduled times so that you will know that at this bus stop, this bus will be here at this particular time,” he stated.
He added that the Smart Buses will be using software that enables people to get more information about the routes and times of travel.
“You have seen their software. You can even sms saying that this is the bus stop and it will tell you that the next bus is coming in the next many minutes,” Mr Githae said.
“You load your money on the smart card and it is just deducted when you come out of the bus.”
Mr Githae emphasised that this mode of transport will be cheaper and improve the security of passengers.
“It is charging according to the distance travelled, not according to bus stops. That means if you enter this bus stop and come out of the other then you will pay maybe Sh4 or Sh6 or whatever, because it is proportionate to the entire journey,” he explained.
“It will also reduce car jacking. You have heard of conductors being carjacked and money stolen from them,” said the Minister.
The government is further looking to ease the regulations requiring all passengers to be seated while travelling by Smart Buses.
Mr Githae said that this will encourage more motorists to use the buses, thus effectively reducing traffic in the CBD.
He emphasised that the considerations that will be taken into account will also include the distance that the ‘standing’ passengers will be travelling.
“We are talking with the Ministry of Transport to see what routes can be given exemption. Obviously for long distance routes, that should not be amended. We should not have standing passengers from Nairobi to Mombasa,” he said.
“If a distance is less than 10km or 20km, we will agree with them.”
The Minister was speaking during the launch of the Smart Bus, which he said would start operating in two weeks time.
“Once we agree on the routes, then we will colour the matatus or buses and give them a different colour. For example, PSVs plying Buruburu to Kawangware will be given a blue colour and those in different routes another colour,” he said.
The Nairobi Metropolitan Ministry requires at least Sh7 billion to decongest the city.