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Dar es Salaam: A Model for Transportation Systems in Africa


Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, is becoming increasingly renowned as the envy and a model of African transportation systems. Recently, the capital city has implemented robust initiatives within its public transportation system and is rapidly becoming an exemplar of efficient and effective transit.

The implementation of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in early 2017 marked the beginning of Dar es Salaam’s lead in transportation effectiveness. The BRT is a high-capacity, high-frequency mass transit system that serves various routes in the city. With electronic ticketing, dedicated lanes and extensions, the BRT optimises travel time and provides a reliable, site-specific transit solution for the city. As a result, the BRT has become a central point of public transit in the city.

Another major contributor to the efficiency of Dar es Salaam’s transportation system is the recent upgrade of its commuter rail system. Originally constructed in the 1930s, the rail system was privatised in 2015 and given an extensive investment by the government to bring it up to modern standards. This upgrading, which included a massive refurbishment of old trains, revamping station infrastructure, and introducing a unified ticketing system, has made rail transportation a viable mode of transportation once again. Now, Dar es Salaam’s commuters benefit from more professional service, more comfortable passenger cars, and a widespread and efficient rail network.

The effects of the improvements to the transportation system are evident in the level of accessibility now offered to Dar es Salaam’s locals and visitors. The BRT system is clearly marked, with signs indicating specific stops throughout the city, while information of the commuter rail network is available on smart devices and in various points of the city. In addition, the presence of a unified ticketing system has simplified the use of both systems, allowing customers to purchase one ticket for multiple modes of transportation, such as the BRT and commuter rail.

Furthermore, the improved public transportation system has decreased reliance on privately-owned vehicles. This has reduced traffic congestion and lowered air pollution levels in the capital.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Tanzania

In 2012, the African Development Bank and the World Bank in conjunction with the Government of Tanzania began the construction of the Dar es Salaam Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. The BRT System is part of the Usafiri Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit (UDA-RT) project and is designed to facilitate rapid transit.

The BRT system consists of 6 phases, with the first phase having been completed in December 2015 at a total cost of €134 million. This first phase of the project has a length of 21.1 kilometres with dedicated bus lanes on three trunk routes with a total of 29 stations. The BRT is serviced by a fleet of 140 Golden Dragon buses, built in China, that provide express and local services for an 18 hour period between 05:00am and 11:00 pm daily. This number increased to 305 in September 2022 in an effort to meet the ever-growing demand for public transit services in the area.

The system has thus far become the most successful public transportation project of its kind in Tanzania and is now the backbone of a network of ever-expanding public transportation options within the city. It has provided an attractive alternative to private vehicular traffic within the city’s congested roads, reducing traffic and improving air quality through decreased emissions. Additionally, the system has eliminated the dangerous and hazardous level crossings of the previous system, improved safety and increased regularity of services.

Similarly, the BRT’s success in Tanzania can be attributed to the collaboration between the Government of Tanzania, The African Development Bank, The World Bank and private investors. Through this collaboration, the project has seen immense success in transforming the public transportation system of Dar es Salaam and setting a benchmark for other cities in Tanzania and beyond.

Dar es Salaam, the first African city to win the Sustainable Transport Award in 2018

In 2018, Dar es Salaam became the first African city to win the Sustainable Transport Award. This impressive feat was made possible thanks to the hard work of the city’s authorities and the citizens of Tanzania. The award from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) recognizes cities who have developed and implemented policies and programmes that promote sustainable urban mobility, focusing on prioritising public transport, non-motorised transport such as walking and cycling, and other innovative approaches that have led to improvements in quality of life and the environment.

The Tanzanian city has undergone significant changes in recent years to reduce traffic congestion, improve the safety and reliability of public transport for its citizens, and move toward a more sustainable transport system. This includes creating a more efficient public transport system with public buses, improving roads and sidewalks, and investing in bike lanes to improve mobility for cyclists. The city’s government also partnered with SafeBoda, a technology-based ride-hailing company, to promote the use of motorcycles as a form of transportation.

Furthermore, Dar es Salaam also aims to improve air quality by reducing pollution caused by motor vehicles. To achieve this, the city has invested in a mass transit system and implemented policies that encourage the use of alternative fuels and the development of an electric vehicle industry.

The city is now more livable, convenient, and efficient, making it much easier for citizens to get around and access important amenities and services. Moreover, the improved mobility and reduced emissions are also helping to make the city’s air much cleaner.

The city’s significant efforts to improve transportation demonstrate its commitment to sustainability and its determination to become a global leader in green transport. This is likely to be just the beginning of a much bigger journey towards sustainable mobility and a brighter future for Dar es Salaam.

How it’s impacting regional economies

Are you looking for ways to boost your business and the economy of East Africa? Nowadays, many regions in East Africa are investing in their transportation sector. As a result, sustainable transportation has become an important part of economic development. Dar es Salaam, the economic capital of Tanzania, is at the forefront of this effort, investing in a variety of sustainable transport initiatives to benefit its citizens and the neighbouring East African countries.

In recent years, Dar es Salaam has been investing heavily in sustainable transportation initiatives, such as the construction of new intercity roads and railways, the creation of light rail systems, and the implementation of bike-sharing programs. These changes have had a direct effect on the city’s economy, providing jobs to thousands and improving access to jobs and services for citizens.

One of the most notable initiatives that Dar es Salaam has undertaken has been the creation of a light rail system. This system has reduced the time commuters spend in traffic on the city’s busy roads and has significantly improved public transportation access to key areas of the city. It has also provided jobs for local engineers and construction workers and has generated revenue for the government. The light rail system has made life a lot easier for the people of Dar es Salaam and has helped to connect different parts of the city, increasing economic mobility.

In addition to its light rail system, Dar es Salaam has also implemented a series of bike sharing programs, which has enabled citizens to access necessary services more easily. These programs have also helped to reduce the city’s carbon footprint, as well as to create thousands of new jobs. The bike-sharing system has encouraged citizens to take up cycling as a form of exercise and transportation, reducing the need for personal vehicles.

Furthermore, the city has made significant investments in intercity roads and railways. This has increased convenience and accessibility between Dar es Salaam and other cities, providing greater opportunities for businesses, services, and goods to be moved between the two cities. In addition, these investments have further helped to reduce the city’s congestion and have increased mobility for citizens, which has helped to spur new businesses and investments throughout the region.

In conclusion, Dar es Salaam’s transportation system is a model for other African cities. The city has made efficient use of its limited resources, and as a result, has seen significant economic growth. The keys to Dar es Salaam’s success include its strong public-private partnerships, its focus on non-motorized transport, and its effective regulation of the taxi industry.

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