BRT, LAGBUS Fares Hike: Why Welfare of Lagos Commuters Should Matter

The announcement by the Lagos State Metropolitan Area Transport Agency of approved increase in transport by the operators of the state public transport services, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and LAGBUS was greeted by missed reactions, most noting its bad timing and its resultant adverse impact on the standard of living of residents in the state.

The proposed new fare would mean over 50% increase in the cost of service to commuters whose size and sources of income are already meagre, no thanks to inflation and low business activities across the state. Hence, the ready pitiable state of residents’ welfare in question is getting ready for worse.

Unregulated Public Transport Subsector

Bus fares in real terms have risen significantly across the state over the past two decades. Public transport market in the state is largely unregulated, giving room for exploitation by the commercial bus operators, popularly called “Danfo”. The situation is further made more unpalatable by the presence of unabated long and complex congestions on very major roads in the state. Hence, the commercial bus operators charge whatever fare they choose, contributing in no little way to cost of living in the city. Therefore, the Bus Rapid Transit system came to be a great relief to the residents of the state – this also explains its wide

The Bus Rapid Transit system came to be a great relief to the residents of the state – this also explains its wide expectance as it saves residents’ time and cost.

It is important to bring back the memory of per-emergency of the BRT to the notice of policy makers while stressing re-occurrence of similar scenarios with this proposed over 50% in fares across all transit routes of the franchise. The pre-BRT era indicated a period of low participation and productivity by the workforce, low tax revenue and high welfare costs.

These are due mainly to collapse of the transport system in the state. Many disadvantaged semi-skilled job seekers, particularly young people and the long-term unemployed, were discouraged from finding and securing adequate work because the costs of transport outweigh the rewards available from the low-paid part-time employment available to these individuals. Hence, increased crime rate in the state. These scenarios I know the current government would never pray or advocate.

Justification for Proposed fares

Adopting similar caper of Nigeria government at different when the service price of public utilities, which their provision of are sole responsibilities of the government, are to be jacked up, the Managing Director of the LAMATA, the state agency in charge of urban transport management, noted the increase as inevitable.

Stating clearly and equivocally that only increase in fare seems the only viable solution. “In view of this and with government’s responsibility to avert a collapse of the franchise scheme …” said Mr. Dabiri, MD LAMATA.

Also, justifying this increased fare, Mr. Dabiri noted that the operational cost of the franchise has increased pointing at cost of fueling going up by 71 percent, oil prices up by 64 percent and tyre by 90 percent and concluded that they threaten the survival of the PPP arrangement. Sincerely, if these are the causes of the proposed increment, then a simply routes management and business strategy can be of great help rather than increasing the cost of living of already poverty ridden population.

Reasons stated by the government for this proposed/approved increment are basic results of many inter-relating factors affecting all businesses in the country. The observed root causes of these factors are within the control of the state government, hence there is probably no need for the change. Otherwise, the main reason(s) is yet to be declared. For very public utilities, such as the public transport service provided by the state government, critical issues such as revenue, patronage, affordability and equity among residents. The only that can be deduced from this pronouncement is, ” Lagos state government is more concern about the revenue, hence this new price system.

The announced increment in fueling, oil and tyre by the government is begging the questions of maintenance practices and control system of the franchise operators. For the expected lifetime of a new tyre is 3 years, therefore making state government motives questionable and considered elites – one feature the immediate past administration in the state was popularly noted for. The government should consider addressing the root causes noted in figure above, to ensure better services and fair fare.

Why Lagos Government Should Reconsider

The proposed fare structure has failed to provide/consider affordability and equity for commuters who can least afford to use public transport and, because of this, both the patronage and revenue components may be greatly affected. The current administration has been noted and praised for its pro-poor and populace programs, this singularly action of Ambode’s government is antithesis to the welfare of Lagos residents and Lagosians.

This is a call on the Lagos state government to reconsider this action before the proposed date of effect. If done the administration would be greatly noted for this.

By Shakirudeen Taiwo,

 

Economic and Public Policy Analyst

 

 

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