Getting around the city of Dar es Salaam can be tricky, with traffic and the efficiency of your preferred transport mode always in question. Amid the chaos, however, two powerful players in the transport industry have emerged.
The Bus Rapid Transit system or BRT, which started operations in May 2016 allowing special buses of particular destinations to travel on their own lane, free from traffic. The second player is the world renowned Uber. It provides reliable and relatively cheap alternatives to the taxis which are still ever so common in Dar es Salaam.
They are both extremely popular in the city of Dar es Salaam already, but what are the pros and cons of both? We put the two to the test, departing from the same destination, Morocco Bus stand heading to Ubungo Bus Stand, both being popular destinations where most commuters move every-day. We chose to start our journey at 5pm for each, it’s the peak hour for many commuters making their journey from work to home.
Defining the ideal experience between the two destinations, is one which not only considers time, but also convenience and comfort. Unsurprisingly the BRT bus was a much quicker choice, with the journey lasting less than half the time it took for Uber to eventually arrive. The bus took approximately 23 minutes to arrive at its destination, while Uber took 50 minutes.
While the bus provided a fast option it was also quite an uncomfortable one. With no seating available in the bus to begin with, because it was already occupied. Because it was not the bus's first stop, I was forced to stand throughout the 20 plus minutes journey. The standing situation worsened as the bus got even more congested, stop after stop. Leaving the bus at Ubungo bus station was also a struggle, as I had to squeeze through the crowd to get to the exit. In summary it was an experience that very much resembled your average Dala Dala in the city, other than the speed of course.
On the other hand, though it took twice as much time as BRT, Uber was a much comfortable. The driver was extremely accommodating, the car was equipped with air-condition and the seating was cozy. The cost of Uber was Sh12,000 compared to only Sh650 for the BRT bus.
In conclusion, both are extremely reliable forms of transport, with the BRT having the advantage of cost and speed by quite a distance but missing out in regards to actually providing an enjoyable ride. So next time you want to get around the city, ask yourself, do you want a quick ride at a cheap price or a comfortable ride at a reasonable price?
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