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Bus Rapid Transit system begins to take shape on superhighway

By Hudson Gumbihi | March 15th 2021

Progress of Bus Rapid Transit shed along Thika superhighway. Passengers will board the express buses on footbridges and dedicated terminals via express lane to Nairobi's Central Business District in a bid to reduce commuters' travel time and decongest the city. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that is envisioned to transform mass transportation of people is finally starting to take shape with remodelling of Thika Superhighway.

Works on pick-up and drop-off points are currently in progress to pave way for high-capacity express buses that will use the inner lanes on both sides of the dual carriage.

The points linked to footbridges will then serve as BRT stations erected along islands between the carriageways. This means passengers boarding or alighting will not have to worry about crossing through the lanes.

Boarding or alighting

The stations have been designed in such a way that access and exit from the stations is through the footbridge. There is little room for commuters to slip or sneak through motorways.

This is part of an integrated public transport service linked to Nairobi Commuter Rail Network (NCRN) that has commuter stations in in Kikuyu, Embakasi Village, Pipeline, Donholm, Dandora, Kahawa, Ruiru, Athi River, Githurai and Mwiki.

The BRT concept that aims to decongest the city and reduce travel time is being supervised by Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority.

So far, works on designated BRT stations are ongoing at Safari Park, Roysambu, Clayworks, Kahawa Barracks and Kenyatta University. 

According to the transport authority during a recent update on progress of the road project, this is a pilot project. Last August Namata Chief Executive Officer Francis Gitau had estimated that the works will take about eight months.

However, an engineer in charge at the works declined to comment on whether the authority will adhere to the set timelines. In the brief dated on March 5, the Nairobi Metropolitan Transport Authority says the bus rapid transit will deliver fast, comfortable and cost-effective services at metro-level capacities.

“It will do this through the provision of dedicated lanes, with busways and iconic stations typically aligned to the centre of the road, off-board fare collection, and fast and frequent operations,” says Namata in the brief.

The exclusive lanes and scheduled travel is expected to drastically reduce travel time to and from the Central Business District.

According to World Bank estimates, city residents on average spend an hour to travel to work and another 60 minutes commuting back home due to traffic congestion.

A park-and-ride facility is planned for construction at Kasarani to allow commuters heading to the city centre to leave their vehicles and take BRT transport for the remainder of the journey.

The project is being carried out in two phases. The first phase is between Clayworks through CBD to Kenyatta National Hospital while the second starts from Clayworks to Ruiru.

There shall be a bus terminal at KNH, and depots in Kasarani and Ruiru as well as a transfer station at Nairobi Railway Station. Along the corridor will be a Non-Motorised Transport.

Other corridors are Line One running from James Gichuru Road/Waiyaki Way to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport while Line Two stretches from Lang’ata Road to Ngong Road, Juja Road, Komarock Road to Ruiru.

Line Three will run from Githurai through Thika Road to Moi Avenue in the central business district and terminate at Kenyatta Hospital. Line Four will cover around T-Mall to Jogoo Road while Line Five shall be along Outer Ring Road

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