Since my return to Lagos Nigeria in August, the improvement in the Public Transport system in the State has continued to thrill me. Okay, I love public transport. When not taking long walks (sorry Okada men!) I am jumping from one bus to another. To see BRT is still up and running effectively is very exciting! I have been taking public transport since I learned how to travel to school on my own, so when I say there is improvement, know this is not giving some inexperience myopic view.
Of course, there is still much room for improvement, but why not lets celebrate the good progress we have made so far?
I compiled this article a couple of months back, and would like to dedicate it to Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola and all those working so hard to make Lagos one of the most livable cities in the world!
The BRT Statement
A few years ago, the public transportation system in Lagos was a far cry from what it is now. Not only was it rugged, mortifying and unfashionable with so many commuters hustling to jump into moving buses, no one could tell how much time was lost in the process. Street urchins popularly called “Agbero” were another menace to the system as they harassed commuters, picked pockets and engaged in all sorts of mischievous activities to the detriment of a functional transport system in the State. However, with the introduction of a government-driven public transport system, the transport sector in Lagos has since been upgraded from its dissipation and deteriorating status into a standard befitting one of the world’s Mega cities.
As part of its resolute effort to turn Lagos into a Mega City and improve business activities in the state, the Government launched the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in March 2007. The project was actually initiated by the Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration, with assistance from the World Bank. It has since seen the light of day, thanks to current Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola’s successful implementation strategy.
Since the launch of the BRT system, Lagos has joined other modern Mega cities that are overcoming the hectic transportation problem caused by urbanization and overpopulation. In the past, to meet the transportation needs of Lagosians, similar systems, such as the Lagos Municipal Transport Service (LMTS), Lagos State Transport Corporation (LSTC), the Jubilee line and other transport outfits, were set up but gradually faded out due to poor maintenance and related negligence.
The BRT system, which is being regulated by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) to ensure effective operations, is classified into the Red and Blue buses, which ply designated routes within the metropolis. While the Red Buses, popularly called “LAGBUS”, under the operation of the LAGBUS Asset Management Limited run non-stop from Mile 12 to CMS, the Blue Buses, operated by the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), run the same route but with stops at every BRT designated Bus-stop where the BRT shelter is built with tickets on sale for commuters.
Rebranding BRT in 2009
As the name implies, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) seeks to give passengers a smooth ride at an affordable fare and to encourage more Lagosians to imbibe the culture of public transportation, thus reducing traffic congestion that result when everybody puts their cars on the road daily. Although, the latter has significantly been achieved, the hope of enjoying a cheap transport was thwarted when Lagos commuters woke up to the announcement of the increase in the BRT bus fare with the introduction new BRT LAGBUS.
These new LAGBUS are Daewoo buses that have facilities such as radio, Air conditioning etc. which do not exist in the Marcopolo LAGBUSES. The introduction of the new buses increased the routes covered to include Oshodi, Festac, Dopemu, Ketu, Ojubode etc. plied by BRT LAGBUS. The ticket price increased as well. For example, a ride from Ojodu Berger to TBS that used to cost N120 on the old Marcopolo buses was increased to N150 while the new Daewoo LAGBUS cost N200.
Speaking on this new improvement, one of the operational Staff who claimed anonymity said “Daewoo Executive buses started operation on February 23rd 2009 with the intention of providing a better improved service. It has AC and radio for commuter’s enjoyment. The increase in fee was not effected without notice. In fact, passengers had the opportunity of traveling on the air-conditioned buses at a minimal fee on the first week of operation so that they will know the worth of the Bus. There was a banner displayed to notify the commuters on the price variations. Not all of them agreed to the change. We must however not forget that the BRT was introduced to make transport easier for Lagosians, not necessarily cheaper. ”
While a few commuters interviewed showed keen preference for the new air-conditioned buses to the Marcopolo buses, some showed repulse, while others were basically non-challant in outlook. Mr. Akintunde, a communicator who works on the Island said “I prefer the Air-conditioned buses because they are more comfortable.” Similarly, another commuter, Mr. Famudimu Gabriel simply described it as super-convenient. “But I am not taking it today because I have cold and the air-conditioned bus might not make me feel better” he said. Although, Joy who works in SAPN, an oil company in Lagos Island and travels on BRT actually exclaimed that the Daewoo bus was too expensive, she admitted preferring it to the other bus because of its comfort. Meanwhile, Abimbola Folashade simply said “it makes no difference.” Mr. Obasi who also shares Folashade’s view said that he travels on the Marcapolo bus because to him the two buses are just the same. However, Mr. Samuel Adegola who was traveling through the Ojodu-Berger BRT terminal for the first time enthusiastically opted for the new air-conditioned bus, “It is worth the price. I think it is going to be more comfortable. It will create room for relaxation before commuters embark on the stress of the day” he said.
BRT LAGBUS: AIR-CONDITIONED DAEWOO VS. MARCOPOLO BUSES
ROUTE PRICE (N)
Berger-TBS 200 150
Tollgate-TBS 150 120
Alapere-TBS 120 100
Oworo-Obalende-TBS/CMS 100 80
Alapere-Oshodi 100 70
Oshodi-CMS/Obalende 150 100
IyanaIpaja-CMS(BroadSt.) 220 180
Dopemu-CMS(BroadSt.) 200 160
Mile12-CMS(OuterMarina) 150 120
Festac- Mile 2 50
2011 and beyond…
Like I said earlier on, there is still much room for improvement. From a user’s perceptive, I think LAGBUS and the Blue Buses need to be more effective in their schedule. I don’t know if it is the usual “demand-more-than-supply” hiccups but having passengers wait for so long before BRT arrive at their stops for pick-up is no real fun. There is no defined schedule. It will be more effective to have a defined timetable of when buses arrive and depart their station 🙂 For now, you can arrive and find buses or wait over 45minutes before a bus swing by during rush-hour. All the same, BRT is still up and striving… real hard. Public Transport in Lagos…what more should we expect in 2011 and beyond? Perhaps the launch of the Lagos Light Rail projects? Excited to see the launch of the Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Purple, Brown and Orange line network, as envisioned by the State government! Eko o ni baje o!