Bus Rapid Transit operations to begin in April

Operations of the Bus Rapid Transit ( BRT), which uses specialised buses on dedicated lanes for fast movement within urban settlements, will begin in April this year.

The Greater Accra Transport Executive (GAPTE), which will be responsible for the bus operations, will test run the system and carry out training when the first 10 buses arrive in the country by the end of March.

The Director of the Department of Urban Roads (DUR), Mr Abass Awolu, in an interview, said the 10 buses would help to test run the system and help with the scheduling programme.

He said the project was, however, expected to fully take off in September on three routes when all the 85 buses needed for the smooth operations of the BRT services also arrived.

The routes are Achimota-Accra, Amasaman-Accra and Ofankor-Accra.

The DUR is responsible for developing the infrastructure of the project.

Currently, work on infrastructure, which includes the provision of terminals, bus shelters, depots and the express lanes, are ongoing.

According to Mr Awolu, most of the major works had been substantially completed.

The Achimota terminal is, for instance, being remodeled to provide a holding area for the buses and also a fuel bay, where some maintenance on the vehicles will also be carried out.

He added that a new terminal, which was nearing completion, had been sited in front of the Amasaman Police Station for buses that would operate on the Accra-Amasaman corridor.

“At Farisco, Adabraka, we are providing an exclusive bus lane between the Farisco and Tudu Road, where a layover for six buses would be provided for express services to Amasaman,’’ Mr Awolu further added.

The country’s BRT, being implemented under the Urban Transport Project ( UTP), is jointly funded by the World Bank, the Agence Francaise de Development (AFD), the government of Ghana and the Global Environment Facility Trust Fund at a cost of $95 million.

It is being executed by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the Ministry of Roads and Highways, with the DUR as the implementing agency.

The implementation of the BRT, which started in 2007, has faced many challenges, key being the stiff resistance from private transport operators between 2008 and 2009.

The DUR had earlier planned to execute an advanced type of BRT on the Accra-Mallam-Kasoa corridor which resulted in the construction of a flyover across the railway line on the Graphic Road in Accra. That project has been shelved for now because of inadequate funding, Mr Awolu said, but added that it would be revisited once funding was made available.

A BRT is a bus-based mass transit system that can significantly improve urban mobility.

The BRT plays to the advantage of density, allowing transit to thrive, and connects people quickly to their destinations.

In Africa, Nigeria was the first country to introduce BRT in Lagos.

source : Graphic Online