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    12 March, 2014
Dedicated bus lanes for Maputo
 
Maputo, 12 Mar (AIM) – Maputo Municipal Council plans to revolutionise public transport in the city, with the introduction of dedicated bus lanes in a “Bus Rapid Transit” (BRT) system.

Two lines are planned, both starting from Maputo central rail station. The longer one will run for 19.1 kilometres and will terminate in the outer suburb of Zimpeto. It will require the improvement and widening of the existing N1 highway and will cost about US$100 million.

In the draft urban transport plan, produced by the Municipal Council and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), this line is clearly the top priority.

The second line, planned with Brazilian support, is shorter, but much more expensive, at US$220 million. It will terminate in the neighbourhood of Magoanine.

On either route there will be bus stops (looking more like train or metro stations than conventional bus stops) in the middle of the road. On either side of these stops will be the two dedicated bus lanes.

The system requires an entirely new bus fleet. Along the N1 route, 120 articulated buses will run, each able to hold 1160 passengers. 78 buses will run along the second route.

Introducing the plan, the Maputo City Councillor for Transport, Joao Matlombe, said the dedicated bus lanes would cut the length of a journey which now takes around two hours to 35 to 40 minutes. He promised that the new buses would be much more efficient that the current fleet of privately owned 15-seater minibuses (known colloquially as “chapas”) which simply cannot meet Maputo’s current transport demands.

He said that implementing the project will take about two years, and promised that road traffic within Maputo “will improve greatly thanks to the introduction of a good quality public transport system”.

Matlombe said there is enough money to implement the system and buy the buses. Hangars for buses not in use and a maintenance area are also guaranteed, he added.

An electronic ticketing system will be used – which means that the tickets will be issued at the bus stops and not on the buses. A projection in the master plan is that by 2020 there will be 106,300 passengers a day using the N1 BRT, with an average length of trip of 12.4 kilometres. The revenue would be US$48,200 a day.

This works out at an average fare of 45 US cents. Current chapa fares are the equivalent of 22 or 29 cents, depending on distance.

Matlombe said that, once the two BRT lines are concluded, the chapas will no longer be allowed into central Maputo. Instead they will operate feeder routes taking the passengers to the BRT bus stops or terminals.

The road widening required by the BRT system will require the resettlement of about 550 families. Matlombe said the Council is looking at ways of mitigating this impact.

The Master Plan points out that the traffic capacity of Maputo arterial roads is already saturated at peak hours. It warns that, if no additional investments are made, congestion can only worsen.
(AIM)
 
 
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