By Lukman Olabiyi
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu yesterday launched 300 mini busses tagged
the First and Last Mile Bus (FLM) Scheme as an alternative to commercial motorcycle popularly known as okada.
The new buses are expected to ply the inner routes in the six local government areas and nine local council development areas where okadas have been banned.
2,000 buses expected in the first phase of the project while total number of busses for the project is 5,000.
The governor however said the total ban on okadas might not be enforced until another two months to give people enough time to get their cowry cards, gauge their response to the scheme, and also measure the scheme’s effectiveness.
Another 100 High Capacity Buses were also unveiled by the governor. He described the initiatives as part of measures to address insecurity and provide Lagosians with safe, affordable and resilient commuting options.
Sanwo-Olu added that the initiatives were part of efforts to achieve a fully integrated inter-modal transport system. He promised that his administration was working to fulfill its campaign promises to the people.
He said: “Closely affiliated to the Bus Reform Initiative are our robust rail and water travel transportation projects which are also gathering pace. I am pleased to note that we are getting set to commission six new ferries into our operational fleet, in addition to the construction and rehabilitation of 15 jetties across the state. Two of our intra-city light rail lines will also become operational by the fourth quarter of 2022.
“This fleet of brand-new mini buses is the newest component of our transformational Bus Reform Initiative, also known as the First and Last Mile Bus Scheme. The FLM has been conceived to take care of commuting between the main transit corridors and the hearts of our communities, where the bulk of our people reside, and where the high capacity buses would normally not ply. It is intended to connect various communities with one another.
“This launch is an important milestone in our quest to achieving the intermodal transport system which gives our population the choices they deserve, reducing congestion and journey times, and improving the quality of life. It is also about improving and guaranteeing the security of lives and properties of Lagosians.”
Commissioner for Transportation Fredric Oladeinde said the FLM launch was to reiterate the state’s commitment to develop an integrated multi-modal transport system that is safe, comfortable, and supports the people’s economic prosperity.
Managing Director of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, (LAMATA) Abimbola Akinajo described the FLM scheme as part of the Bus Reform Initiative conceived to develop a coherent, formalised and regulated transport system and network in state.
She said: “The FLM is the last layer of the Bus Reform Initiative for Lagos State, which comes from the Lagos State Transport master plan developed by LAMATA. The Bus Reform Initiative is a plan by government to ensure that over time our public transportation system moves from an unregulated framework to a regulated framework.
“The FLM buses, which are small capacity (7-11) passenger buses, will travel on routes designed to take you closest to and from your origin and destination. The FLM scheme enhances and ensures connectivity in the intermodal and integrated public transportation drive of the state. The routes have been designed to provide connectivity, not just for the three tiers of bus schemes, but also for all forms of public transportation, including water and rail when they become operational in the last quarter of 2022. These buses will connect community routes to the major BRT bus stops, bus terminals, ferry terminals and train stations.”
The FLM scheme will be run by private operators who will work with the state. The government will support them under a Bus Finance Scheme, where the private operator is expected to make a 20 per cent down payment to be eligible to come under the scheme. The repayment period is for 36 months, with a 10 per cent interest rate.
Managing Director of the Lagos Bus Services Limited (LSBL) Idowu Oguntona noted that several people were employed through the accredited LBSL Driving School as the school produced 1,969 and 334 certified high-capacity bus drivers in 2019 and 2020.
The fleet size also increased from 50 buses in May 2019 to 150 in December of same year. The fleet has about 252 buses presently, but the 100 unveiled yesterday brings the number to 352.
Oguntona added: “These vehicles contain specific customer friendly features to create more pleasurable commuter experiences, including air conditioning, breeze fans, comfortable seats, LED destination display signage, high ground clearance to cope with our peculiar road terrain and, most importantly, the support of the locally-based Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), as it relates to maintenance and supply of spare parts.
“These buses have the capacity to move approximately 960 passengers per bus, daily.”