Ministry of Transport to focus on commuter trains as opposed to BRT buses, Transport CS reveals

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Transport CS James Macharia
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia at a previous press conference.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia on Tuesday revealed that the government is considering reinstating commuter trains to ease traffic congestion across Nairobi.

According to the CS, the ministry is currently in the process of acquiring trains from Spain which will facilitate the realization of the project.

“To that effect, two PS’s from the Ministry have already traveled to Spain to complete transactions on the trains,” Macharia said.

The CS further revealed that the commuter trains will in this initial phase operate on two routes: Syokimau-CBD and Ruiru-CBD.

Similarly, the CS revealed that the commuter train project will require the acquisition of additional diesel powered engines to power the machinery.

The CS however reiterated that the shift to using commuter trains did not mean that the government had abandoned the development of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems.

“The trains will function as an alternative to the BRT buses but our focus at the moment will be on the commuter trains because they do not require a lot of developing since train tracks are already in place,” the CS explained.

“Apart from the trains, all that is required is renovating the tracks and stations commuters will use.”

The BRT initiative, according to the CS, requires plenty of infrastructure, time and space-which Nairobi does not have- to develop. In addition, CS Macharia faulted the city’s poor planning given Nairobi does not have designated lanes for the BRT buses.

Nonetheless, Macharia also revealed the establishment of the Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, which will handle all public transport issues.

The Transport CS’s revelation is contrary to what he tabled before the Senate Committee on Transport in April this year. During the meeting, Macharia prioritized the completion of the BRT systems borrowed from Colombia’s similar initiative, claiming that about 50 buses would be deployed to the city in ‘the next four weeks’ to facilitate the project. This is yet to happen almost 6 months down the line.

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