Dar es Salaam 13 March 2018 - Delegates from Nairobi and Kampala representing government officials, public transport operators and politicians - whose influence is critical in implementing sustainable transport systems – recently embarked on a study tour of the Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit System (DART).
During the tour, the delegates were exposed to the ongoing journey of planning, managing, implementing and operating the DART system. In addition, a delegate from Egypt, who works for the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) joined since Cairo is in the process of modernizing the government run bus system and needs to work at transforming the existing public transport services.
UN-Habitat has been implementing the project “Promoting Sustainable Transport Solutions for East African Cities”, SUSTRAN. Over the five years of implementation, the cities of Addis Ababa, Kampala and Nairobi have benefitted from capacity building enabling them to make strategic responses to upgrade the transit systems, implement improved non-motorized transport infrastructure and apply travel demand management. Each of the three cities has defined a priority Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor network and developed detailed designs and business models for a pilot BRT corridor.
The study tour to the operational BRT system in Dar es Salaam was organized by the Urban Mobility Unit, Urban Basic Services Branch, UN-Habitat. During the two day visit, several meetings were organized with the coordinating agency DART, the operator U-DART, the regulator, Surface & Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA), Tanzania Roads Agency and the World Bank which funded the phase 1 corridor.
DART has put in resources towards its first operational BRT corridor which has reduced the travel time from 3 hours to 45 minutes using the exclusive bus lanes. The first corridor covers 21 kilometres trunk corridor with exclusive bus lanes; 27 stations; 5 terminals; 1 depot; and 4 feeder transfer stations. The Government provided the infrastructure and the private sector is dealing with the operations. The target is to build 121 kilometres of trunk roads; phase 1 is operational; phase 2 plans are in progress and will cover 19.3 kilometres. Studies for phases 3 & 4 are being discussed with potential development partners.
Participants reflected on the best practices regarding the high-quality infrastructure designs and made enquiries on the operational model which is getting better as ridership increases. The experience will help the cities to leap frog their processes armed with information on what to do and what not to do in making the transition.
The long-term vision is for the three SUSTRAN cities to create a sustainable transport network that offers full citywide coverage, providing safe, efficient and equitable transport to all residents. BRT is considered an effective way that could improve mobility and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and road safety concerns.
The delegates were re-energized to carry on with the planning process for the public transport systems in their cities. Interaction with a functioning BRT in neighboring East African Dar es Salaam provide them with the opportunity to relate to institutional and public transport transformation issues that determine the success of the system.
There are many aspects of BRT that need to be addressed – land use plans that link to BRT corridors and to other modes including the railway and the feeder routes which are served by the smaller public service vehicles. The planning must move from the simplistic issues of BRT as a stand-alone to more dynamic issues of spatial plans and more transit-oriented development (TOD).
The participants realized the importance of addressing technical, economic, social and political aspects of the project. All aspects must be tackled simultaneously as cities encounter challenges of poor urban planning, compensation and legal disputes, cost overruns, and the time it takes for the transformation of the existing public transport operators.