Management of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has said the patronage of the AAYALOLO buses has been enjoying a steady increase since its commercial introduction on December 1, last year.
After a successful free test run of the BRT system for a week in September 2016, it started with gradual increment in ticket sales and had recently sold about 4,000 tickets for the last 10 days.
“The figure indicates that patronage of the AAYALOLO busses are gradually increasing by the day,” the Public Affairs Manager of GAPTE, Mr Fred Chidi, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS in Accra.
He said although figures was looking impressive by the day they could have done better had there been a proper legislative framework criminalising the encroachment of the dedicated lanes for the Quality Bus System (QBS).
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“Like any other endeavour, the system is actually picking up gradually because we are seeing a certain progression in terms of ticket sales from free bus ride to over 4,000 sales in 10 days, an impressive performance; but we think we could do better,” he said.
The service is being managed by the Greater Accra Passenger Transport Executive (GAPTE), with the participation of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU), the Progressive Transport Owners Association (PROTOA) and the Co-operative Transport Union.
The buses currently run three services on the Nsawam road corridor; from Amasaman to Tudu, Ofankor to Tudu and Achimota to Tudu.
He explained that the BRT could have doubled its performance in just a month if other road users stayed away from the dedicated lanes for the QBS.
For this to be successful, he urged the police to ensure law and order along the designated lanes.
“We have actually promised commuters who patronise the service to save them 30 minutes of their travel time,” he stated.
What is BRT?
BRT is a high-quality bus-based transit system that delivers fast, comfortable and cost-effective services at metro-level capacities.
It does this through the provision of dedicated lanes with bus ways and iconic stations typically aligned to the centre of the road, off-board fare collection, and fast and frequent operations.
Although BRT contains features similar to a light rail or metro system, it is much more reliable, convenient and faster than regular bus services.
With the right features, BRT is able to avoid the causes of delay that typically slow regular bus services, such as being stuck in traffic and queuing to pay on board.
In Africa, Nigeria was the first country to introduce BRT in Lagos.
Mr Chidi explained that commuters would be provided with electronic cards that would be pre-loaded with cash to enable them to access the service.
The cards, once procured, could be used on all buses in the fleet. About 42 ticketing booths are being provided along the routes where the buses stop to pick up passengers.
In the air-conditioned buses, there are facilities to validate the e-cards, their authenticity and whether commuters have paid the required fare.
The manager said once validated, access is granted for one to enter the inner perimeter of the bus, but on exiting, a commuter has to de-validate the card before disembarking.
“For this reason, entry onto the bus can only be done from the driver’s side of the bus, while exit can only be done through the rear,” he added.
One other feature of the buses is their disability-friendliness, evident in a panel that is lowered down to enable a disabled person to board the bus.
The country’s BRT, being implemented under the Urban Transport Project ( UTP), is jointly funded by the World Bank, the Agence Francaise de Development (AFD), the Government of Ghana and the Global Environment Facility Trust Fund at a cost of US$95 million.
It is being executed by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the Ministry of Roads and Highways, with the DUR as the implementing agency.
The implementation of the BRT, which started in 2007, has faced many challenges, key being the stiff resistance from private transport operators between 2008 and 2009.
The DUR had earlier planned to execute an advanced type of BRT on the Accra-Mallam-Kasoa corridor which resulted in the construction of a flyover across the railway line on the Graphic Road in Accra.