Rwanda: Inside the Next Generation of Kigali's Public Transport

A next generation bus.
4 November 2019

Have you ever wished you had real-time information showing you the time at which public buses arrive at the waiting station so that you don't have to leave your office and be on the road for 20 minutes or more waiting?

Well, that and more is what is entailed in the next generation of public transport in the city of Kigali - a transition that will see the city move to a more advanced public transport system by next year.

Dubbed Generation 2, the new system is looked at as a step forward in revolutionalising the face of public transport in the form of higher I.T use, improved route planning, better vehicle mix and introducing a strict scheduled service.

The New Times had an interview with the Eng. Emmanuel Asaba Katabarwa, the Head of Transport Department at RURA who gave a picture of what public transport may look like in 2020 when Generation 2 goes into implementation.

Among the catchiest facts, under the new system, passengers will be able to know (through I.T) which bus stop is the closest, the time the bus arrives, and the route that the bus operates.

"We are working with partners who are developing apps that will give people information. For example you will be able to know that the bus I need will arrive in next ten minutes," Katabarwa said.

"For instance, if you are at your workplace and plan to get out and go to the bus stop, we will be able to tell you that the next bus will come in 8 minutes. It will depend on you if you want to go and wait from the stop, or linger around office until the bus' arrival time gets closer."

Katabarwa said that there are going to timetable which will be displayed on the websites of RURA and other institutions showcasing the arrival times of the buses and routes.

The system may also see the introduction of Dedicated Bus Lanes - which means dedicating a lane for only public transport vehicles,

"There is a plan to set apart one lane for the public buses so that the normal cars have one lane, and the buses have one lane," Katabarwa said.

This is meant to make the buses faster and more convenient, discourage the use of private cars and increase ridership on public transport.

Since the buses will be faster, Katabarwa said that the fares may reduce for the passengers since the operators will be able to make many rounds. This will also be profitable for the operators who may be able to make more rounds using fewer buses.

Gen 2 includes improved marking out of routes basing on the volume of the passengers. Using data from the automated fare collection system, the routes in the city have been divided into: primary, secondary and tertiary routes basing on the number of passengers.

In the new system, primary routes (the most frequented routes) will be only operated by big buses and will have a waiting time of only five minutes or less (some will have about 3 minutes).

"Today we have coasters operating some busy routes, for example, Kimironko to CBD. For generation 2, we are not going to allow coasters on these roads," he said.

For secondary routes, the waiting time will increase to about ten minutes. These can be operated by coasters, just as tertiary routes.

According to Katabarwa, there is more that is being planned and the waiting time maybe subject to change before Gen 2 implementation.

Generation 2 will also feature the use of intelligent service monitoring systems (particularly GPS) to track vehicle activity and performance,

"This time we are using ICT to be able to control the drivers. By using GPS, we will see the activities of the buses, and see which one is delaying, and call them to ask them why they are delaying the passengers," he said.

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