Efforts by the government to address problems associated with urban transport have been boosted with the development of a concept design of a pilot Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system for Accra.
The BRT system, which has been successfully tried and tested in some cities like Ottawa in Canada and Curitiba in Brazil, is a mass bus transit system that experts say delivers fast, comfortable and cost-effective urban mobility.
The Accra Central-Mallam route will be used for the pilot project, which will involve the creation of exclusive bus lanes and terminals for the system.
The exclusive use of the bus lane is expected to reduce travel time for bus passengers along the route from about one hour to an estimated 25 minutes.
The concept design of the pilot BRT system, which was launched in Accra on Wednesday, forms part of a $95million Urban Transport Project (UTP) launched by the government in September 2007 with the view to reducing vehicular congestion and related environmental pollution and green house gas emissions.
Six districts have been earmarked for the implementation of the UTP. They are the Accra Metropolis, Kumasi Metropolis, Tema Metropolis, Ga East District, Ga West District and Ejisu Juabeng Municipality.
The UTP is being funded jointly by the government, the World Bank, the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), under the joint auspices of the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment.
According to demographic analysts, the population of Accra and its surrounding cities is expected to double by the next 15 to 20 years, resulting in the reduction of population density, expansion in built-up areas and improvement in per capita income, all of which will lead to a five-fold increase in vehicular ownership.
The Project Advisory Office (PAO) said a survey conducted in 2004 indicated that more than 70 per cent of vehicular commuters in Accra depended on either "trotro" or large buses but they utilised a little more than 30 per cent of the road space.
On the other hand, taxis and private cars carry less than 30 per cent of vehicular commuters but they utilise about 60 per cent of the road space.
It is to reverse that trend that the government has embraced mass transportation policy in urban areas to provide service to between 80 and 85 per cent of passengers through the implementation of the BRT and other schemes.
Briefing the media on the project, the team leader of the PAO, Mr L. Hesse, said the system would improve vehicular congestion and its consequent negative impact on health.
The Deputy Minister of Transportation, Mr Magnus Opare Asamoah, assured commercial transport operators that the BRT system was not meant to push them out of job but rather to enhance their efficiency.