Dedicated bus lanes (DBL) for public transport are expected to get operational on a pilot basis before mid-2024, according to information from the City of Kigali. A DBL is a lane designated to give priority to transit vehicles by separating them from other modes of traffic and allowing them to move through congested areas more quickly and efficiently. ALSO READ: Dedicated bus lanes: Why CBD-Sonatubes-Giporoso road was selected Kigali’s DBL will occupy two lanes of the CBD-Sonatubes-Giporoso road during peak hours (early morning and evening) – the time when most people are going to and from their workplaces. Speaking to The New Times, Kigali’s Vice-Mayor in charge of Urbanisation and Infrastructure, Merard Mpabwanamaguru, said the testing phase is expected to get operational before the end of this financial year. “It is something that is being worked on and we hope that before the end of this financial year, which means by mid-next year, we shall be having it tested,” he noted. He said that the DBL is not something that you bring in one day, because there are a number of supporting infrastructures that need to be put in place. “A study has been conducted and there are infrastructures to be put on the ground to ensure that the buses are given a dedicated lane. So we are working closely with different government institutions be it Mininfra (Ministry of Infrastructure), Minecofin (Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning), but we also have World Bank on board,” he added. Dodo Twahirwa, the CEO of Jali Transport, one of the major public transport companies in the city, said the DBL is an important mechanism because traffic jam is one of the big problems affecting public transport. The CBD-Sonatubes-Giporoso corridor was chosen after a feasibility study was done and different roads were examined. “After a multi-criteria analysis, the CBD- Giporoso corridor was selected as the pilot given the benefits it would yield,” a source at the City of Kigali said. One of the key characteristics of the road is that it has four lanes, which makes it easy to dedicate two to buses that are carrying passengers in peak hours, while the remaining two are used by private cars. ALSO READ: The rigours of public transport in Kigali In addition, it is a road that has high commutability demand. “This corridor has a great travel demand. For the DBLs to work well, it should have high demand corridors,” said Alphonse Nkurunziza, a senior lecturer of transport planning, engineering and urban structure at the University of Rwanda. According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), an association of 100 major North American cities and transit agencies, DBLs are typically applied on major routes with frequent headways (10 minutes at peak) or where traffic congestion may significantly affect reliability. In a media interview, officials at the association of public transporters said they had spent more than 10 years asking the government for the DBLs as a solution to traffic jam. “People spend time in queues waiting for buses not only because they are few. The scarcity of buses is an issue, but there are more problems in addition to that, for example traffic jam. Sometimes, a bus can spend hours traveling from Kanombe to the CBD due to traffic jam,” noted Theoneste Mwunguzi, the Chairman of the association. Walter Rubegasa Hunde, the spokesperson of the Private Sector Federation, said traffic jam is a major concern for public transport operators especially in the morning and evening. “This delays people going to work,” he said. “I think dedicating some lanes to public buses during morning and evening hours will benefit both the travellers and the investors,” he added. Meanwhile, Chris Kost, a public transport expert working with the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy as its program director for Africa, said the DBLs are a good short-term measure but “it is crucial for the city to move towards implementing a bus rapid transit (BRT) system without further delay.” The BRT is a high-capacity public transport service that generally runs on DBLs and corridors to avoid delays that typically slow regular bus services. Although the characteristics of each system may vary, the BRT allows buses to zoom past traffic and offer fast and predictable journey times. Under the system, buses only stop at designated stations where passengers typically prepay the fare before boarding, which streamlines and speeds up operations.