When the Dar Rapid Transit (DART) Agency is bracing for the commencement of infrastructure development of phase two, stakeholders in the DART project in February this year discussed the rationality and travel demand forecast of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Dar es Salaam amid the lingering tenacity of daladala owners to continue running the business.
The relevance of BRT to the city has been analyzed in tandem with travel demand in a study being carried out by LOGIT Inc, a consulting firm with expertise in BRT systems based on the Brazilian experience that deals with urban transportation at international level.
One of the experts working for LOGIT who participated in the study, Vinicius Pietrantonio, asserted that any area in a large city such as Dar es salaam which has a high and increasing population needs to have mass transit as is opposed to a traditional urban public transport system that uses small size commuter buses popularly known as daladala whereby one bus can only accommodate 20 to 30 passengers at a time while with a mass transit mode of transport one bus can carry as many passengers as 140 at a time and relies on dedicated and exclusive infrastructure to improve operational efficiency.
The study and discussion of its results have come as a backdrop of criticism by people from inside and outside the country on the idea of introducing BRT in Dar es Salaam in order to improve mobility of people in the city geared to enhance social and economic development.
Pietrantonio insisted that the corridors which are included in the current five phases for implementation of DART project in the city have been proved by the study to have high transport demand and therefore qualify for BRT instead of maintaining the old public transport system characterized mainly by having small and old commuter buses.
The identified corridors for the implementation of BRT include Morogoro Road, Kawawa Road, Kilwa Road, Nyerere Road, Bagamoyo Road, Mandela Road, and other emerging roads in areas which are expected to urban development.
Cementing on the importance of BRT in the city, an expert in the study, Andre Jacobsen, said that the rate of people driving their private cars in the city can be reduced if only BRT is implemented successfully as he said: “One hundred cars on the road which can only carry 120 people can be serviced by one BRT bus which can carry more than 140 passengers at a time; if people opt for BRT buses this can reduce the number of vehicles on the road.”
The study also indicated that the implementation of BRT will reduce traveling costs to the residents of Dar es Salaam for they can avoid paying daladala fare two to three times in a route, a behavior which has existed for many years especially in long commutes during peak hours.
Transport Specialist from the World Bank, Eng. Yonas Mchonvu also elaborated on the same matter saying that the main purpose of BRT is to transport as many people as possible in a short time rather than making private car owners feel good by being let to drive their own cars and cause traffic jams that affect thousands of people on the road.
Eng. Mchonvu said: “Mass transit should be promoted in order to enhance social economic development as it may ease mobility of the people and therefore make people use their time properly in a day.”
To have a better use of land in the city when planning for BRT system, city planners should consider many aspects that go with urban public transport including future technological advancement which may affect emergency of other modes of public transport.
Underlining the importance of planning for use of land in the city, the DART Agency’s Chief Executive, Eng. Roanald Lwakatare, said town planers should carefully survey the land and have a solid plan of its use in the city so that new needs do not emerge afterwards which might cost the government by either demolishing or building other new structures unnecessarily.
Discussing the travel demand analysis, the study shows that fare and change of ridership in a day should be considered as it may bring about some negative effects. It was argued that some people may decide to abandon BRT simply due to some differences in fare as comparing to daladala. The fare in BRT should not be too high for some people to afford.
Logit experts pointed that if the two factors in question are not taken seriously during a demand analysis, ridership can also show discrepancies during peak hours.
It was noted that ridership in some countries that have started to implement BRT, sometimes it has indicated to be high in the morning due to the fact that many people at that time have no other options except boarding BRT buses to arrive on time at their appointments while in the evening many people can opt for other slower means of transport including daladalas and therefore having lower BRT ridership at that time.
The experts also highlighted the possibility of motorcycle operators to dominate urban public transport in the cities especially when BRT services are not efficient. They warned that motorcyclists in Dar es Salaam popularly known as bodaboda might takeover BRT if regulatory measures are not taken immediately.
The participants in the meeting pointed out that bodaboda as a means of public transport in the city can cause a myriad of mischief as most of them are not well trained to be good drivers. There are plenty evidence to show that bodaboda in Dar es Salaam are menace to its users and to the DART project as they are always involved in fatal road accidents in spite of the education given to them on road safety.
In order to curb the propensity of many people to run such a business in the city, the government should impose strict conditions before they are allowed to drive bodaboda including compelling them to go through rigorous training from reputable colleges and having long experience in the job, participants of the meeting proposed.
The meeting to discuss the results of the study attracted stakeholders in the DART project included technical people from DART Agency, World Bank, SUMATRA, TANROADS, Police, Dar es Salaam City Council, and Municipal Councils.