2 Jan 2019 Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis & Research (ZIPAR)

The Urgency of Urban Public Transport Reforms

In Zambia, like in many developing countries, public transport is mainly road based, dominated by intra-city minibuses.  In 2017, the Government through the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC) announced its intentions to reform the public transport sector. In part, the announcement was made against the backdrop of urban public transport problems such as poor service quality, inefficient route configuration and non-affordable passenger fares characterizing service provision in most urban centers in Zambia.

The removal of import duty on minibuses soon led to the increase in overall supply of public transports services. However, service quality begun to decline as the market became more and more deregulated. Now, over two decades after the reforms, research shows that Zambia’s urban public transport system is unsatisfactory and does not meet the international standards of convenience, reliability and affordability for commuters.

The country’s urban population is projected to reach 11 million people by 2030. The rise in urban population will translate into increased demand for transportation services, including public transport. In addition, Lusaka grow and their inhabitants become richer.

Current minibuses service is unreliable

Minibuses are ubiquitous, cheap, and fast. Bus routes are not posted, and a new driver may get lost. Minibuses do run into the evenings, but become decreasingly frequent at the evening wears on. Fares are theoretically standardized and depend on the route, but in practice, pleading locals may get away with less than the official fare on short routes, while visitors are occasionally overcharged. The conductor may give you change, but it’s better not to hand over more than what you think the fare should be. At busy times passengers are jammed in tightly, particularly in the smaller buses.

To eliminate the chance of fraud, automatic fare collection (AFC) may help

Dec 2013 ZIPAR

“Passengers switch between buses is free of charge providing a relief for those customers who do not terminate their trips in the city center. It involves introduction of route tickets, ticket vendors and setting up a common clearing mechanism for tickets. This would result into passenger travel cost savings. The potential fare reduction expected from this alternative is at least nine percent. However, this alternative has higher technical requirements to reduce the risk of fraud. The elimination of chances for drivers to handle cash will mean driver revenue loss and this will need compensation in a different way.”

On the other hand, using AFC system should eliminate the fraud of handling cash and it can also raise the chance of usage of minibus by the passengers.  Minibus owner should have getting more cash in advance and have more buffer to enhance the minibus service or even revenue of driver.

Business opportunity

The research aim to increase the usage of public transport by local or workers.  However, a lot of under-developing countries may not have a proper management and system for improving public transport services.  There are still a lot of unreliable problem raise regarding to fake money and fraud from driver.   Also, making public transport efficient and effective is a lot more important from the research.  Without a reliable fare collection system, drivers or conductors are tendency overcharge or without giving change.

Learning from places with the AFC system,  an automated fare collection (AFC) system will definitely improve the financial situation of most bus companies.

The writer is a frequency traveler.  For more detail about, please visit autofare.net.

Post Author: GCSharing

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