The Lagos Bus Rapid Transit System, also known as BRT is regulated by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) and currently operated by Primero Transport Services Limited. Lagos BRT was first introduced and launched in March 2008 and was initiated by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Governor of Lagos State as at that time.
It currently stretches from Ikorodu Garage to CMS and at the moment is being extended from Oshodi towards Abule Egba (which is the third phase of BRT implementation after the Mile 12 to Ikorodu extension in 2015) with the approval of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode (the incumbent). With its special corridor routed along its routes, the BRT has a clear advantage over other private and commercial vehicles on major roads in Lagos as it is least affected during heavy traffic jams. Due to that and the fact that its fares are much more affordable than the regular commercial buses, most Lagosians have adopted the use of the BRT to commute around the Lagos metropolis. This satisfies the objectives of the state government to reduce traffic congestion by encouraging citizens to ply commercial transport. However, it is to be noted that apart from domestic transportation solutions, several attempts have been made to improve the technology and operations of the Lagos BRT.
The Lagos Connect Card
Launched alongside the BRT, the Lagos Connect Card was designed as a transport payment card which commuters top up and make use of to pay their bus fares. It was also said to be a central transport card in which every transport solutions managed by LAMATA was supported. This was great as the Government of Babatunde Raji Fashola had it in plan to provide alternative transport solutions like rail and waterways. As interesting as this idea seemed, it faced a lot of challenges like late adoption by citizens and inadequate infrastructure to facilitate the payment system by the transport managers. Unfortunately, this idea didn’t last.
The Lagos BRT App
As part of measures to make public commuting easier and accessible, late 2017, Primero introduced a mobile app, the Lagos BRT app, which will enable commuters to search for the next available bus, identify the nearest bus top and pick a
Following the idea of how things like this are in foreign countries, I also embraced the
In April 2018, the Lagos State Government in partnership with Primero Transport Limited, Sterling Bank and MasterCard made another remarkable attempt to enhance payment options just as its Lagos Connect card scheme was intended to do by launching FarePay, a smart contactless card that can be linked to a bank account and topped up via agents or online transfers. These NFC enabled cards
It was a wonderful idea as it could save commuters hours of queueing to buy tickets and also help cut costs in commuting around Lagos. Unlike the Lagos Connect Card which was restricted to BRT/LAMATA based transport solutions, FarePay was introduced as a multi-purpose card which could be used in shopping, transport
First of all how safe is it? The essence of a contactless card is to simplify payments with just a tap by making use of embedded chips to store data and near field communication (NFC) technology to send and receive information. As such, the security of this payment system is debatable, considering that a PIN code is not required to make transactions. Which implies that once stolen, someone else can use the card to perform a transaction before the owner realizes. Fortunately, FarePay supports the ability to block your card in the case of theft and also you can place a transaction limit on your card in which when exceeded would require additional proof of identity or validity such as entering a pin code or rather the transaction will be rejected.
Secondly, how will this be widely distributed better than the Lagos Connect Card? One of the major failures of the latter was the inability of the operators to provide all bus terminals with the top up agents or alternatives at all times. Holders of such cards were often delayed just because they either couldn’t recharge their cards or the buses they were about to board didn’t have the card payment system installed. Unfortunately, that same trend began almost immediately and once more, after a lot of people got stranded, they were discouraged because it is assumably better to purchase the paper tickets rather than the poorly operating card systems which were meant to be time and cost saving.
The Problem(s) and Solutions
Basically, I believe the problem with the Lagos BRT system has to do with its management, the human factors involved and their commitment. If they really want to make an ideal tech system, they have to be very serious about it. Instead of seeing these steps as huge achievements, they should focus on the bigger picture.
For example, FarePay could have been integrated into the BRT app thereby allowing commuters to buy tickets or refill their cards more easily. Also, the presence of well trained and very dedicated
There has to be a better approach in the allocation of buses because as far as I understand, for now, drivers have the power of choice on which bus stops they want to pick passengers and this is usually very hazardous to the commuters who stand tirelessly under the sun waiting for a busman who’ll consider them. I believe there should be a central system which automatically allocates buses to their terminals depending on the time, the number of waiting passengers and its proximity to those passengers. Even if drivers are allowed to pick bus stops, they should always be charged to update their destination information so as not to mislead people and other drivers.
I still believe the BRT system could work if only more attention and dedication is put into the whole project but for now, let’s keep our fingers crossed and see what else is in stock for us.
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