Africa’s congestion problem has been made worse by the lack of investment in efficient and quality public transport systems. This not only creates chaos, but it also encourages urban residents to use personal vehicles to avoid the inconvenience and the unreliability of the informal public transport systems evident in many African countries. The increase in motor vehicles further adds to the traffic congestion problem, increasing carbon emissions and inequality.
Public transport systems if well-designed are fast, comfortable, affordable, and most importantly, accessible. Access to safe, modern transport provides a true alternative to private car ownership, which is a major source of socioeconomic disparity and a massive contributor to climate change in cities all over the world.
BRT is an innovative mass transit system that combines the efficiencies and quality of metros with the flexibility and relatively low cost of buses while offering significant environmental benefits. World-class BRT achieves comparable levels of speed, capacity, and passenger comfort and convenience as rail-based systems, but can be built at a fraction of the cost and construction time. BRT provides cities with a pragmatic and affordable solution to ensure that their transit systems keep pace with urban growth.
Compared to a regular bus, the journey on a BRT is much quicker, because BRTs enjoy bus-only lanes, and passengers pay at the station, rather than on the bus. And since the station floor is at the same level as the bus floor, BRT is easily accessible to individuals with limited mobility. BRT also reduces greenhouse emissions and air pollution. By increasing bus speeds, encouraging motorists to switch to buses, and often using more fuel-efficient buses, BRT is an important tool in battling climate change.
In Tanzania, Dar es Salaam launched phase 1 of the first BRT in East Africa, moving approximately 170,000 passengers a day and reducing travel times by more than half. The success of the 21 KM BRT has inspired neighbouring cities; Nairobi, Kampala, Rwanda and Addis Ababa to evaluate their transport systems. Works on Phase 2 of the Dar es Salaam BRT are already in progress and the city hopes to initiate more BRT lines in future.
ITDP is providing technical support to these cities in the designs of the required infrastructure and the operational success of the BRT systems including bus operation contracts.When done right, BRT enables cities to devote less space to cars, while moving more people at a relatively low cost, and with faster implementation than rail. As the world’s populations move to cities at faster rates, the demand for sustainable transportation will only increase. BRT systems stand out as smart options for cities to meet their citizens’ needs, improve quality of life and support a thriving urban environment.
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