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To most Kenyans, good old upcountry buses are only option

Despite the many cases of road accidents associated with Public Service Vehicles in recent months, passengers still prefer them as an affordable means of transport.

Travellers, particularly those going on long distance destinations, continue to use the regular PSVs probably because they are cost-effective.

A spot check by People Daily at the Nairobi’s Machakos County Bus station established that passengers troop to the bus terminus each day to board vehicles to various destination.

The sector players, including touts and drivers, say vehicles at the terminus provide an alternative cheap mode of transport.

According to them, the buses at the city terminus attract passengers who want to spend as little as possible to travel.

Evans Otieno, a matatu tout attached to the Climax coaches, says passengers flock the bus terminus daily because bus fares are considerably low compared to what high-end bus companies charge.

Currently, Otieno says buses at the terminus charge between Sh600 and Sh800 to the upcountry destinations such as Kisumu and Busia compared to their high-end counterparts whose charges range from Sh1,200 to Sh 1,500.

“Passengers prefer to board buses at the terminus because bus fares here are pocket friendly and there is even room for a bargain,” said Otieno.

Tobias Omondi, a tout with a Nairobi county bus concurs, saying they charge fairly low fares which are convenient for the low-income earners and regular travellers, particularly small-scale business people.

Omondi said passengers the bus station can negotiate for lower fares depending on the season, which makes the preferred booking point for many travellers.

“The bus operators here are open-minded in the manner they negotiate fares with the passengers and this motivates them to come again,” said Omondi.

“We also generate additional income from the charges imposed on passenger luggage,” he added.

Christine Wafula, a business woman says she prefers to board vehicles at the bus station because the fares are pocket-friendly.

“I don’t incur a lot of expenses by using ordinary buses. The fares are convenient for ordinary and business people,” said Wafula.

According to Ichangai Ngugi, a driver with a Nairobi County bus, their vehicles must get at least a 65-passenger capacity before they can start a journey as opposed to the executive buses that can go without attaining full capacity passengers as long as they will recover the deficit from the fares charged per passenger.

Currently, he says they take one trip each day but are able to make several trips especially during festive seasons when business is booming in the sector.

A number of PSVs coming from the bus terminus have ended in horrible road accidents.The most recent involved a Kakamega-bound bus which claimed lives of 56 passengers and left several injured.

Last month, about 12 passengers perished in another accident along the Nakuru Highway involving Climax sacco bus. In most instances, the accidents have been blamed on reckless driving, speeding and overloading.

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