The Nairobi County government has launched a web portal that will help collect data on traffic flow and congestion in the city, with the aim of helping planners create a better management system.
The digital transit map www.digitalmatatus.com was developed by scholars from the University of Nairobi in partnership with Columbia University.
Dubbed the Digital Matatu Project, the crowd sourcing initiative will allow residents of Nairobi to share their daily experiences and views on traffic flow. This data will in turn help the county government to device and implement new transport policies.
New public transport routes expected to change how matatus run in the city will take effect in April.
Designated routes mirror those used in the 1980s when there was scheduled public transport before the system collapsed, leading to the chaos that reigns today.
Transport Principal Secretary Nduva Muli yesterday said licences would be renewed on the basis of new routes designed to decongest the Nairobi central business district and ease the movement of vehicles between suburbs.
He was speaking in Nairobi at the launch of matatu routes that have been designed using information developed through collaboration between civic data design lab, MIT Centre for Sustainable Urban Development, Colombia University, School of Computing Studies, University of Nairobi.
“By April when we are issuing new licences, we want the Nairobi County government to give us routes that make sense. Every day new routes are coming up —some starting and terminating in the central business district — causing congestion in the city,” said Mr Muli.
National Transport and Safety Authority chairman Lee Kinyanjui said the new research would enable them to plan. He said increased studies on transport would also enable them to know the impact of some of the policies being implemented.
“In the 1980s, there was a structured transport system but over time this collapsed and we now have a chaos. This is not sustainable,” said Mr Kinyanjui.
Mr Muli said the county government was partly to blame because of its failure to implement its by-laws that state that a public service vehicle should not stop for more that two minutes at a bus stage and 20 minutes at the terminus.
“As we implement new PSV rules, matatus that do not obey the by-laws will face the full force of the law,” he said.
Nairobi county executive committee member for public works, roads and transport, Mr Evans Ondieki, said the new routes announced yesterday would be used to assist in planning movement of vehicles in the city.
“The routes are based on scientific research and will be used to inform the planning of public transport in the city,” he said.
Mr Ondieki said Nairobi would reclaim public land that was grabbed by individuals to expand parking space in the city, while an automated system of billing vehicles for parking space per hour would be introduced to end the congestion.
Kenya Bus Management Services managing director, Mr Edwin Mukabana, said the routes should be categorised into urban, peri-urban and intra-urban if they are to adequately cope with the transport needs of Nairobi.