Public transport services have been largely provided by private sector owners and operators who operate para-transit and minibus services through informal operations, which, by its very structure, are challenging to monitor or regulate in a formal manner.
Service quality has been abysmal with attendant downside effects including adverse environmental impacts. There is also increasing use of private vehicles partly due to the poor conditions of the public transport system leading to traffic congestions on almost all arterial routes to the Central Business District (CBD).
As a strategy to solve the mobility problems of urban areas, the Urban Transport Project (UTP) was launched in 2007 with three participating ministries namely, Ministry of Transport, Roads & Highways and the Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development.
OBJECTIVES OF THE COMPONENTS OF THE URBAN TRANSPORT PROJECT
The objective of the project was to improve mobility in areas of participating MMDAs, through a combination of traffic engineering measures, management improvements, regulation of the public transport industry and the implementation of a Bus Rapid Transport System.
The project was also aimed at promoting a shift to more environmentally sustainable transport modes and lower transport-related Green House Gas emissions.
The major components of the project were as follows:
l Development and operation of a Pilot Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System
l Regulation of Urban Passenger Transport in the Participating Assemblies
l Traffic engineering, management and safety including the development of an Area-Wide Traffic Signal Control System in Accra and Kumasi
l Institutional development through support to all the stakeholders in the Project
l Integration of Urban Development and Transport Planning.
INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENT WITH BRT
In respect of the institutional arrangements, the Greater Accra Passenger Transport Executives was formed with delegated powers from the thirteen participating MMDAs within the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) and Awutu Senya East Municipal Assembly (ASEMA) in the Central Region.
The participating assemblies are mandated by the passage of the Local Government Act L.I. 1961 that allows the MMDAs to regulate public transport in their areas of jurisdiction.
To also ensure the integration of existing operators into ongoing reforms programmes by Government, there was the need to organise the informal operators on the identified route to run the services in this case the Amassaman to CBD Corridor.
Consequently, several consultations were held with the identified operators on the corridor to mobilise support for the project.
The consultations started in 2007 and there have been many study tours with the operators to Curitiba and Soa Paulo in Brazil, Bogota in Colombia, Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa and finally Lagos in Nigeria to observe similar operations in these cities.
The operators were later organized into three (3) formal operating entities to run the services on the pilot corridor. These companies are as follows:
- Amalgamated Bus Transit Services Limited registered as an offshoot company of PROTOA and GRTCC to operate from Achimota Terminal to Tudu
- Accra GPRTU Rapid Bus Transit Company Limited, registered as an offshoot company of GPRTU to operate from Ofankor Terminal to Tudu
- Ghana Cooperative Bus Rapid Transit Association, registered as an offshoot company of Cooperative and some members of GRTCC to operate from Amassaman Terminal to Tudu
DEVELOPMENT OF BRT PRIORITY SYSTEM
For the infrastructure development, terminals, bus stops and other bus priority measures have been implemented along the Amasaman-CMB (Tudu) corridor.
They include the construction of the Amassaman, Ofankor and Achimota bus terminals, 300 solar street lighting systems along the corridor, junction improvement works and provision and installation of 16 solar traffic lights. In all, the system would have 4 terminals, 15 BRT specific stations and 27 simple stops in operation.
In terms of the services, Government has procured 245 Scania BRT buses to be deployed on selected routes. These are high occupancy buses capable of carrying up to eighty six (86) passengers.
For the pilot route, eighty five (85) buses are being deployed under a brand name “Aayalolo Bus System”. The buses are equipped with an electronic ticketing system, GPS receptors, on-board computers, CCTV and communications systems.
SYSTEM SERVICE PROVISION
The bus services on the Aayalolo Bus System would be run by the three bus companies under non-exclusive contracts signed with GAPTE.
The operators would be responsible for the provision of the transport services by complying with the frequencies and time schedules assigned to them by GAPTE.
In terms of the fares, an urban Zonal Fare Structure which allows for graduation of fares paid according to distance travelled is being applied. There are Four (4) main zones namely:
- Zone 1 – Amasaman to Ofankor
- Zone 2 – Ofankor to Achimota
- Zone 3 – Achimota to Circle
- Zone 4 – Circle to Tudu
This is a pilot project and would be replicated on other major corridors in the Greater Accra region namely;
l Adenta to Accra
l Kasoa to Accra
l Tetteh Quarshie to Mallam Junction
l Tema Beach road to Accra