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Nigeria: Lagos Urban Transport Project (LUTP)

BRT Buses - Lagos Urban Transport Project

Developing New Frontiers to Improve Urban Mobility
A Success Story from Lagos 


The Lagos Urban Transport Project for Nigeria, approved in 2010, is now in its second phase. The goal of the project is to continue to improve the capacity to manage the transport sector in the Lagos metropolitan area, and enhance efficiency and effectiveness of the public transportation network. Using a private-public partnership approach, early evidence indicates that the program is having a significant impact. With 220,00 people using buses daily, time and money spent on travel along the project corridor has been reduced by about 20 percent, and more than 500,000 jobs have been created.


Lagos, the sixth largest and one of the fastest growing cities in the world, is struggling with unreliable public transportation. Buses, of poor quality and run mostly by individual bus operators, are vital part of Lagos’ transportation network, with close to sixteen million bus trips made daily in the city. The streets are teeming with over 75,000 minibuses known to locals as danfos (minibuses carrying 8 to 25 passengers) and molues (larger minibuses with a passenger capacity of 30 to 50). Traffic congestion is rife and public transport costs to users constitute over 20 percent of disposable income. The lack of planning and management capacity contributed to the poor level of urban transport services. Improving the capacity of the public transport system to cope with the population growth is clearly of critical importance for Lagos. As a result, the Lagos Metropolitan Transport Authority (LAMATA) was created in 2002 with the mission to “transform the state transport system by facilitating an enabling environment.”


The Lagos Urban Transport Project (LUTP) was designed with the objective to enhance the efficiency of the transport network in such a way that it contributes measurably to poverty reduction, and to sustainably improve the sector management capacity. The project draws from best practice in Bogota (Colombia) and Curitiba (Brazil), and adapts the concept of Bus Rapid Transit to African context. The BRT is a bus-based mass transit system that delivers fast, comfortable and cost-effective service. Through the provision of exclusive right-of-way lanes and excellence in customer service, BRT essentially emulates the performance and amenity characteristics of a modern rail-based transit system, but at a fraction of the cost.


So far, the project has yielded improved institutional capacity for urban transport management and provided benefits of new bus system in record time. It has demonstrated and confirmed the strategic role of public transportation in a mega city and the critical role of commitment and leadership at the highest levels of government.    


  • Time and money spent by poor households on travel was reduced from 90 minutes and Naira 150 in 2003, to 23 minutes and Naira 100 by June 2009
  • Money spent by poor households on public transportation as a share of income was reduced from 17 percent in 2003 to 11 percent by June 2009
  • Average pilot bus route waiting time at terminal was reduced from 20 minutes in 2003 to 10 minutes by June 2009
  • All internal procedural manuals of LAMATA were established and LAMATA fully operational
  • The Bus Rapid Transit system was completed in less than 15 months from conception to implementation. The BRT system, launched in March 2008, is the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa, and is the first example of a comprehensive and an integrated approach to improving public transportation.  
  • BRT system has created direct employment for more than 1,000 people, mostly graduates; and indirect employment to more than 500,000 people in the state.
  • Preliminary studies suggest that thus far, more than 200,000 commuters use the BRT system, which exceeds expected usage by 100 percent.  BRT passengers also enjoy a 30 percent reduction in average fare costs (from 140 Naira in the past to 100 Naira currently) despite the 100 percent rise in fuel costs since commencement. Commuters also enjoy a 40 percent reduction in journey time, cut average waiting time by 35 percent, and experience a welcomed absence of exposure to robbery on public transport. This has been made possible by introducing discipline in operations (route franchising), an increase in average speed (from less than 15 km/hour to 25 km/hour), and creating an enabling environment (investing in infrastructure needs).
  • The bus operations (both capital and operating costs) are fully financed by the bus operators at a fare which is almost 30 percent lower than the existing fare for danfos and molues
  • Evaluation has declared the BRT system a success, defining the critical success factors as being: significant and consistent political commitment, the presence and abilities of a strategic public transport authority in LAMATA, scheme definition that concentrates on essential user needs and deliverability within a budget and program, the work undertaken to engage key stakeholders and ensure that those that benefit are multiple, a community engagement program that has ensured that BRT-Lite is seen as a community project created, owned and used by Lagotians.


IDA Contribution

The project cost was US$130 million, of which $100 million was provided by IDA and the Nigerian government. In 2007, the Board approved US$50 million additional financing to the project, so to cover the financing gap resulting from unanticipated cost overrun and to scale up the bus services enhancement component. IDA was able to draw on its international experience in helping to design and introduce a successful model of Bus Rapid Transit. It drew from best practice in Bogota (Colombia) and Curitiba (Brazil), and adapted the concept of Bus Rapid Transit to African context. 


The study was conducted in close partnership with a number of government agencies, including the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, the National Bureau of Statistics, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the National Planning Commission. The National Planning Commission also played a crucial role in organizing the dissemination of the report. Other development partners were not directly involved in the study.

Toward the Future

The visibility created by the 22 km BRT-Lite corridor has produced substantial demand for additional mass transit service to be developed in the Lagos metropolitan area.  The World Bank, joined by the “Agence Française de Développement” (AFD) is currently working with its partner LAMATA to prepare a new project (LUTP 2) to help meet some of this demand, at a total cost of about $350 million.  

This project was delivered at very low cost per kilometer as compared to BRT projects in other parts of the world (about US$2 million/km as compared to US$5-$10 million in similar schemes in others parts of the world). As such, it could be of interest for replicating along other corridors and low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa.


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