Maputo — The integrated train and bus passenger transport system for the Greater Maputo area, known as Metrobus, began operating on Tuesday, and up until Friday passengers can use the system free of charge.
Metrobus is an initiative by the private company Fleetrail, which has imported second hand rail cars from New Zealand. It depends on the cooperation between Fleetrail and the publicly owned ports and rail company, CFM, which is leasing use of its tracks to Metrobus.
Fleetrail currently has four railcars, each with four carriages, and a fleet of 100 buses of varying sizes. Each Metrobus train can carry 540 passengers, all seated. The trains will run all day, unlike the CFM trains, which only run at peak hours.
A Metrobus ticket will cover three components: a bus journey to the rail station in Maputo or the neighbouring city of Matola, the train journey between the two cities, and a second bus journey carrying passengers to their final destination.
According to Amade Camal, the general manager of Fleetrail, a day ticket on Metrobus will cost 25 meticais (about 40 US cents). A monthly pass will cost 750 meticais, which is equivalent to 25 meticais a day.
This is much cheaper than originally planned. Last year, Fleetrail was talking of selling a monthly pass for 3,500 meticais, but then cut the price to 2,500. This would certainly not be a service for the poor: Camal said at the time that Fleetrail wanted to attract commuters who used their own cars every day to drive between Maputo and Matola to switch from road to rail.
The initial capacity of the Metrobus system is 30,000 passengers a day. But this could rise to 50,000 a day as from June when the routes served by Metrobus will extend to Marracuene and Boane districts.
Cited by the independent daily “O Pais”, the Maputo municipal councillor for transport, Joaquim Mundlovo, said “This is a major project that will make a great contribution to passenger transport. We shall add to the work we have already been doing to improve the transport system”.
The initial Metrobus trains were far from full - probably because of the lack of publicity. So far there are no Metrobus adverts to be seen in the press, or on Mozambican television stations. Neither Metrobus nor Fleetrail has bothered to set up a website.