Lagos residents relish rail experience, seek more trips on blue line
Operator records 30 trips, 7,000 passengers in three days
It was meant to be a skeletal operation that would gradually morph into electricity-powered metro line, but in three days, the Lagos blue line rail, which started operations last Monday, has recorded 30 trips with over 7,000 passengers conveyed. Passengers, who rode on the train, yesterday, narrated their good experiences, and called for more fleets.
Although, operations were limited only at morning and evening peak periods, the passengers are already yearning for more. When The Guardian visited the Marina station yesterday, the passengers, mostly business owners in CMS and Balogun markets, expressed delight at arriving at their destinations earlier than usual.
They called on government to increase the number of trains convening passengers to ease the transportation burden of Lagosian.The passengers, who arrived the Marina station at 9: 11a.m, lauded the state government for the initiative and the smooth ride.
A passenger, Ihezuo Emeka, said: “This a good initiative and we are happy to be riding trains to and from our offices, the air conditioners are working but the only problem I have is that only one train goes from Orile to Marina, and when it leaves the station by 8:00 a.m., no other train service till 6:00 p.m. Government needs to increase the number of trips, so that we can board every hour to our destinations.
“Nevertheless, we can’t compare the ride to boarding buses to work. This is fantastic and commendable.” He added: “Because of the limited number of trains now, there are too many people standing. Everyone should have a seat if the trains move at 30 minutes interval. We are not enjoying it the way it should be because of the number of passengers standing.”
Another passenger, Joseph Olaoluwa, said: “It was fun riding the train. Seamless, fast and the cowry card comes handy. It took us 20 minutes to get to Marina. It’s enjoyable and I think the government has done a good job but could do better by completing the rail track to Okoko. But this is good.
“The difference between boarding a bus and train is very clear. The cost of transportation is becoming too expensive, but this is subsidised at N375 without agberos, bus conductor or officials of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) disturbing.”
Responding to these challenges, an official of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), operators of the light rail system, said they were still test running the scheme to ensure smooth transition to full operations powered by electricity.
“Between Monday and Wednesday, we made 30 trips, moving more than 7,000 passengers,” the official said. The operation of the light-rail system started last Monday after 12 years of conceptualisation.
Construction of the 13-kilometre line started in 2009, with services slated to start in 2011, but funding constraints for the N100 billion ($132 million) project, delayed the plan.
The line, built by China Civil Engineering Construction Corp. was inauguratedby Governor Babajide Sanwo-O lu last Monday and estimated to convene 150,000 passengers daily, according to LAMATA.
When fully operational, the train would take as many as 1,200 passengers per trip and cut the journey time from Mile 2 to Marina, on Lagos Island,from three hours to 25 minutes.
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