BRT to adopt card-ticketing system in first quarter 2019
Managers of the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) in Lagos, Primero Transport Services Limited, has said it will phase-out ticketers by the end of first quarter of 2019, thereby adopting an electronic card ticketing system.
Besides, the operator said the cashless system would enable passengers to travel seamlessly and phase out leakages often associated with cash transactions.
Indeed, the company revealed that it has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the biggest bus manufacturer globally, Yutong, to assemble buses locally, and urged government to enhance ease of doing business in the country.
Speaking at a media parley in Lagos, Managing Director of the company, Fola Tinubu, said the assembly plant, which is already under construction in Epe, will be into mass production of high capacity buses to create more jobs and revenue to the nation, while reducing the company’s operational costs.
Tinubu said the cost of doing business in Nigeria remains herculean due to the unstable economy, as it affects the price of diesel and spare parts, which hampered Primero’s operations.
“There had been only one fare increase since the last eight years, despite the increasing cost of operations. This is not fair on us because it’s like pushing government’s duty to the people without adequate backup.
“We don’t manufacture anything in Nigeria, we literally import everything. All the things that we use on the buses doubled overnight due to naira depreciation. We took a loan in dollars at the exchange rate of N165/dollar to buy these buses. At a time, the dollar went to as high as N500 and we still had to service the loan.
“Therefore, our cost doubled; our debt went through the roofs and the income stayed more or less the same. It was tough and it is still very tough. We know there is a social element to our business; we can’t get away from that. But we are also a for-profit business and we need to break even,” he noted.
Tinubu called for a public transportation subsidy as practised in some developed countries.
“The government has to make a political decision to subsidise public transport or allow the private operators charge the market value. We can’t have it both ways. It is a political decision that has to be made if we want a world public transport system in Lagos State.
“All over the world there is no transport system that makes money without subsidy. If we have to charge the full market rate, our charges would double, yet pricing remains the same,” he added.
Although the BRT carries about 150,000 passengers daily, he said plans are ongoing to increase that to about 200,000.
“Eventually, our goal is to have about 2000 buses all over Lagos that will convene one million people daily. We are in a bid with the State government for the Oshodi-Abule Egba route,” he added.