Tuesday, May 21, 2024

First-ever electric, mass-transit bus operation begins in Kenya


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 A Swedish-Kenyan technology company that develops, designs and deploys electric vehicles tailored for the African continent, has today announced the milestone launch of the first-ever electric, public mass transit bus operation in Nairobi.

Roam says that the one-year project aims to address the unique challenges of public transport by providing a reliable, sustainable, efficient, and modern mass transit solution.

The learnings gathered during this period will be put towards scaling up production and operations in the near future.

The Roam Rapid, launched in late August, is the electric bus that will be in operation. The bus has been built to revolutionize the market not just because it’s electric, but because it takes into account everyone who comes into contact with it. From passengers to drivers, the bus has been designed to ensure a better end-to-end user experience than ever seen before in Kenya’s public transport system.

This launch is the first step in Roam’s vision to see city streets paved with hundreds of electric buses by 2023. Initially, the target is the Nairobi Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) tender which will see the deployment of 100 buses onto Kenyan roads.

The Roam Rapid, which has a carrying capacity of 77 passengers, is set to operate on the Thika Superhighway, Mombasa Road and Waiyaki Way as the initial routes. The bus is currently running its operations from Fire Station Lane in the Central Business District to Juja. Fares will be at par with what other bus operators in the industry currently charge.

The bus, equipped with a 384-kWh battery, has a range of 360 km on a single charge. This is significant as the bus can run full-day operations without a top-up charge depending on the operator’s schedule. For the bus to return to full capacity, charging will take less than two hours. For this reason, two DC 180kW chargers have been fitted at the Roam warehouse to cater to full charges and top-ups. These chargers remain the only charging infrastructure in the ecosystem, presently, with more coming in the future.

‍“At Roam, we aim to guarantee access to comfortable, equitable and reliable public transport to shift the masses to electric public transport in Nairobi.” Dennis Wakaba, Project Coordinator, Roam

The bus requires far less servicing compared to its diesel-run counterparts. Due to increased fuel prices, it also reduces operational costs by up to 50%. This ensures operations are maximized and maintenance costs are reduced for bus operators. These cost savings from the operators’ side can then be passed on to the everyday commuter ensuring affordable and cost-friendly rides. Roam is inviting Nairobi residents and commuters to experience the future of electric, mass transit travel.

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