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Nairobians' travel patterns during the holidays

By Sara Okuoro | January 1st 2020

The advent of ride-hailing technology was a game-changer in the taxi business in Kenya and across the world. Public transportation is now more convenient and reliable. 

These Apps have not only transformed the transport sector, but they have also improved many other business infrastructures that directly affect our society.

An analysis of the GPS systems belonging to Bolt, a ride-hailing company in Kenya, with presence in over 35 countries with over 30 million users globally; reveals interesting formed trends by Kenyans during the festive season.

According to the information, Nairobi County has high economic vibrancy; with more riders and App-based cabs per square kilometre than any other urban centre in Kenya.  It, therefore, formed the base for the study.

Bolt used their own Christmas and New year data for 2018, focusing on travel patterns on the city’s major roads and frequently visited malls. They also looked into popular destinations in Nairobi as well as the most popular ride times.

A heat map of travel patterns in Nairobi.

A heat map of travel patterns in the city shows higher rides within the Central Business District (CBD), Eastleigh area, Upper Hill, Hurlingham, Kileleshwa and Nairobi West.  This could be due to high social and economic activities within these areas. Eastleigh is popular for trendy and affordable fashion items and people frequent the area during the festive season for new clothes for Christmas parties or gifts for colleagues and family.

The CBD and Nairobi West are known for their social joints and vibrant nightlife.  The Christmas to New year period is associated with parties, random get-togethers and church masses for believers. Young and old folks with fat pockets frequent these social joints for parties and celebrations as well as to let loose as the year spans out.

The data further reveals higher rides requested at 10pm in the evening and 4am at dawn within these areas, a reflection of the times when people stream into joints and clubs and leave them respectively.  The heat map also shows the less requested routes in various areas of Nairobi including Ofafa Jericho, Ngara, Makongeni, Mlango Kubwa, Lower Karen areas and Eastland. A dive into most popular destinations indicates frequently visited malls and airports.  Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) was a popular destination for many rides painting a picture of many people flying out of Nairobi for either a holiday or for an up-country visit.

Key malls visited by shoppers include; Thika Road Mall (TRM), Westgate Mall, Sarit Centre Mall, The Junction Mall, Eastleigh Mall, Two Rivers Mall, Yaya Centre, Garden City Mall, The Village Market, Galleria Mall and The Hub Karen.

Most trips in Nairobi are taken from 2pm onwards into the evening during the festive season. This could be attributed to the fact that majority have closed their 8am - 5pm jobs and only leave their residential places to go meet up a friend, attend a family gathering or go out to shop.

As a result of the above data, it is becoming increasingly important for drivers of ride-hailing apps to know when and where to hang around for business and make a killing during the festive season.

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