26th August, 2017
The Lagos Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), since inception, has continued to enjoy city-wide patronage as the scheme expands in infrastructure, passenger volume, and area network coverage. Like the teeming mainland populace, the islanders are not left out in the scramble for this innovative mass transit option. It is however disappointing to know that, aside from the aging red buses with few new additions and stressed out passengers queuing under sun and rain, the BRT leaves no trail of operational presence in Ajah metropolis.
In all fairness, what serves as a BRT terminal in Ajah is a filthy sidewalk on a stretch of muddy pools and decomposing roadside refuse. The buses themselves are parked on top of moist garbage and smelly stagnant pools and therefore exposed to messy splashes and sprays from other vehicles cruising by. Incidentally, the air around this makeshift terminal is not only fouled by the stench of compost and pungent exhaust fumes, but also made smoky and much more uncomfortable as a result of cooking, roasting, and frying by roadside food vendors.
Unfortunately, this is the atmosphere in which nursing mothers, babies, children, youths, and numerous other commuters queue every day under adverse weather conditions waiting to access BRT service. Moreover, Ticketers, Drivers, and Conductors working for the scheme are all exposed to this unhealthy work environment. Irrespective of whatever circumstance leading to this gross neglect by the BRT service provider, the health and psychological implications of a filthy work environment remain legion.
Findings of a recent study show that the two main points that hugely impact the psychological state of clients and staff are the unclean workplaces, and air quality. A work environment that is filthy and olfactorily displeasing leaves clients with a bad taste, and staff with no desire to make an effort. The mental impact of an unclean workplace may seem small on the outside, but can be extensive if not immediately addressed. Essentially, BRT operators in Ajah need to stay one step ahead of their competitors by showcasing a terminal and workplace that any transport business owner would be proud of, and staff members and clients enjoy being part of.
Aside from providing accommodation for high volumes of entering, leaving, and transferring passengers or freight as well as vehicle-holding areas for vehicles awaiting clearance to enter or exit the station, well-designed terminals and transit stations boost the corporate image as well as productivity of any bus company. No doubt, the Obalende LAGBUS terminus and the ABC Transport, God Is Good Motors, GUO, and Peace Mass terminals in Ajah are eloquent testimonies to this assertion.
Considering the dogged determination of the Akinwunmi Ambode-led Lagos State Government to alleviate the sufferings of the motoring public through innovative infrastructure, there is no doubt that the government would make good its resolve to phase out commercial buses from city traffic. But how prepared is the Lagos BRT to adequately provide mobility for the islanders in a relatively conducive atmosphere?
Research findings of contemporary urban transport studies the world over have shown that high capacity mass transit buses such as the BRT play a very significant role in reducing traffic congestion. This is not rocket science. Basically, what it implies is that one 54-sitter bus could substitute for four 14-sitter buses on the road, and as the government continues to increase and encourage investment in long mass transit buses, chances are that even without any form of legislation or outright ban market forces would put the yellow buses completely out of business. Furthermore, this would mean freer roads, reduced travel time, less costs, less stress, and reduced greenhouse gases emanating from Lagos roads.
But market forces do not just tilt blindly in favour of low prices and high capacity. In principle, consumer mechanics requires that moments of forces must also revolve around the consumer’s taste. If the BRT must achieve this ultimate goal of decongesting traffic on Lagos roads by use of long mass transit buses, the scheme must target not just the low income earners but the entire motoring public including private car owners. This therefore calls for greater emphasis on quality of service, environment, safety, aesthetics and all other factors that sway the consumer’s choice.
The book Energy: What Everyone Needs to Know reminds us that cars consume at least three times more energy per passenger than buses and short distance trains. Evidently, the Ajah – Obalende – CMS round trip with its mad traffic costs four hundred Naira (N400) by BRT while a private car plying same route consumes over two thousand naira (N2000) worth of fuel. Yet a private car owner prefers the comfort of his car and considers it more cost effective.
Practically, cost effectiveness in choice of urban transport mode takes into consideration the overall cost of transportation keeping in mind the hidden costs, reliability and regularity of service, safety, varying passenger and luggage characteristics, flexibility of service, location and suitability of terminal facilities. So to an average private car owner in Ajah and the rest of the island, the urban mass transit mode still reeks of ugliness with comparatively high cost implications and as such does not merit his patronage. Notwithstanding, the BRT scheme has left colourful footprints and landmarks on the mainland of Lagos with its state-of-the-art buses, transit stations and terminals.
Chartered Member, The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Nigeria
11B Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos
Email: [email protected]