Empty seats in buses as more passengers opt for SGR

Empty seats on a modern coast bus travelling from Mombasa to Busia. PHOTO: GEORGE OTIENO.

Mombasa, KENYA: Mombasa Bus companies have started feeling the effects of Standard Gauge Railway as most passengers buses are citing fewer passengers.

A spot check by Baraka FM on Tuesday, found that a modern coast bus travelling from Mombasa to Busia, managed 15 passengers only.The bus normally has a capacity of 45 people.

According to one of the conductors who wished to remain anonymous, SGR has really affected their business and he feared that a lot of people will soon lose their jobs.

“This is the effect of SGR,” he says as he points the empty seats.

Watu wataenda nyumbani kwasababu ya hii SGR.Imeharibu kazi sana.Sai tunachoma mafuta na hawa abiria wachache tu“(People will lose jobs. SGR has really affected our business.We are forced to waste fuel transporting a handful pf passengers).

The conductor says during good days, they carry not less than 30 passengers.

Just as he was speaking, another Nairobi bound bus overtakes the bus and the scene inside is similar what was inside the Modern coast bus.

With the launch of Madaraka express, a lot of travelers have opted for the ride which only takes 4hrs 30 minutes compared to a bus ride which roughly takes  9 hours from Mombasa to Nairobi.

Also, it only costs one 700/- for an economy ticket and 3000/- for a First class ticket; compared to buses which most of the time charge 1200/- for normal ticket and around 2,500/- for VIP tickets.

However, many have expressed challenges in trying to book the Madaraka Express tickets, as one is only allowed to book 3 days in advance and you have to go to the terminus ( either in Nairobi or Mombasa) to get the ticket.

Many passengers have complained of being stranded, forcing them to seek alternative means or camp at the train station to get a ticket.

“On Monday I went to get a ticket for Friday, I was told to come on Tuesday, I went their early morning only to be told the train is full! It’s so discouraging considering the fact that I spent fare to get there only to miss the ticket.”  Said Karl Omondi.

Kenya Railways has insisted that it is working on getting an online platform to enable passengers book in advance, but this has not yet been achieved.