Primero Transport Services Limited, operators of the Lagos Blue BRT buses from Ikorodu to the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos Island, has bid for the proposed Abule-Egba/Oshodi Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor under construction by the Lagos State government.
This is just as the company yesterday stressed the need for further discussions on how to make the public transportation system work in Lagos and to be viable to investors.
The Managing Director of Primero, Mr Fola Tinubu, who briefed newsmen at the BRT Depot, Majidun, yesterday also disclosed a plan by the organisation to increase its buses to 2000 with a capacity to convey 1 million passengers daily.
Currently, the transport firm, which started full operations in November 2015, has 434 buses and conveys 150,000 commuters daily across major terminals in Ikorodu, Agric, TBS and Mile 12.
Tinubu explained that the company’s goal was to increase the number of passengers it conveys daily to 200,000 on the Ikorodu/TBS corridor, saying if the firm won the bid for the Abule-Egba/Oshodi corridor, it would deploy 350 buses to operate the corridor.
He also disclosed plan to completely phase out manual ticketing in the first quarter of 2019, saying all passengers would be compelled to embrace the card system which removes the stress of queuing to buy tickets.
But the public transportation expert, who explained that Primero was 100 per cent privately owned, explained it pays a certain percentage of its revenue to the state government, thus giving it the right of exclusivity to use the dedicated BRT lanes constructed by the government.
Noting the company has not increased fare in its services for the last eight years, he called for more “honest discussions” in Lagos on how to effectively run the system without the investors running into losses.
For instance, he said, the cost of the company’s operations has tripled. “Our biggest challenge is the naira devaluation. We borrowed a lot of money in dollars. We imported parts in dollars and when the naira nosedived, our debts doubled and the cost of procuring the vehicle parts we use has also doubled, and even tripled in some cases,” he said.
He added, “In other climes, transportation firms like ours get concessions, e.g. London buses get their diesel at a different rate so that the fare can be kept at the same level.”
Notwithstanding the challenges, the company, he assured commuters, would strive to provide safe and comfortable services.
Tinubu further disclosed that Primero had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with one of the biggest bus manufacturers in the world to establish an assembly plant in the state.