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Innovative electric bus service kicks off in Senegal capital

By AFP

May 15, 2024 10:48 PM


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An entirely electric bus network began operating in Senegal's capital Dakar and its surrounding suburbs Wednesday, an AFP journalist saw, with the service aimed at transforming travel in the traffic-plagued city.

The president of the operator Dakar Mobilite, Stephane Volant, told AFP that the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) was the only one of its kind in Africa, with electrically powered buses running on dedicated lanes across the capital.

"It's comfortable, safe and above all fast," said Ramata Sow, a 28-year-old shopkeeper who was one of the first passengers on board the brand-new air-conditioned buses.

"It's a stark contrast to the traditional public transport, which doesn't respect the traffic regulations," said 50-year-old university professor Moctar Sadio.

"I didn't think I'd get to Petersen (in central Dakar) so soon," he added.

The Dakar region is home to a quarter of Senegal's population, with almost four million residents today and five million expected by 2030.

The city also houses the bulk of the country's economic activity and 70 percent of registered vehicles, according to the Executive Council of Urban Transport in Dakar (CETUD).

The number of vehicles on the road is increasing at an annual rate of 10 percent, and CETUD estimates the quantity of journeys is expected to double in 20 years' time.

The BRT is part of a mass transport strategy promoted by former president Macky Sall, with work having begun in 2020 and the network officially launched in January.

But Sall left office before commercial service on the BRT could begin.

The network will be phased in gradually, eventually reaching 300,000 passengers and operating along 18 kilometres (11 miles) of lanes.

Only 14 of the 25 stations are currently served.

The BRT's facilities were severely damaged during the political unrest of recent years.

A fast train covering the 36 kilometres between the centre of Dakar and the new town of Diamniadio was launched at the end of 2021, transforming the lives of many commuters.


AFP


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