Isuzu East Africa (Isuzu EA) has unveiled three models of high-capacity buses for the planned bus rapid transit system (BRT) in Nairobi.

The prototypes were presented to the Transport Stakeholders Engagement Forum this week. They have a speed limit of 60 kph and can carry between 60-100 passengers at a go.

Speaking during a one-day meeting with city commuter operators on Monday, Isuzu EA managing director Rita Kavashe said the buses are locally assembled and specifically designed for Kenya’s BRT system.

She said early this year, Isuzu EA went on a benchmarking exercise to Bogota in Colombia to understand how the BRT system can be applied in Kenya.

“One of the key objectives we want to achieve is to provide a safe and reliable mode of transport to Kenyan citizens. We also intend to help improve productivity through the elimination of lost time in traffic jams.”

On its Twitter page, Isuzu EA added: “The BRT system is to provide safety and inclusivity. Everyone needs to be able to board the bus, hence the large capacities some of our units have. This system is also necessary for Kenyans as it will help to save on time and improve on productivity for Kenyan citizens.”

Some main features in the buses are the seating space and wide access doors to allow for ease of entry and exit of the buses.  The 100 pax bus has 47 seats and 53 handles for standing passengers.

The buses also come with enhanced body structures and greater road stability for passenger safety and comfort.

Matatu owners said they welcome the new transport system, urging the government to fast-track its implementation.

“This is the future of the transport industry, we have to evolve with time as the concept is good,” Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai said.

“We support BRT as it includes all public service vehicles (PSVs) and must start off with segregating lanes for all PSV where private vehicle owners are barred. That will discourage private vehicle owners from using their costly vehicles leaving them at home in favour of the cheap BRT vehicles that we are ready to invest in,” he added.

The Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (Namata) has since mapped out several routes that will have the lanes reserved for buses.

In the city centre, the lanes will be constructed along roads like Haile Selassie, Moi Avenue, Kenyatta Avenue, and University Way, according to the agency’s designs.

Outside the city centre, the Nairobi transport agency has mapped out five routes including Thika superhighway, Jogoo Road, Mombasa Road and Outer Ring Road that will have the lanes reserved for buses.

“There will be feeder stations along the BRT corridors that ordinary matatus will drop off commuters from estates for them to be picked by large buses on the special lanes to Nairobi town,” said Namata CEO James Ng’ang’a.

Officials said they will construct overhead pedestrian crossings every kilometre for passengers to access the bus station pick-points.

Some photos of the buses.