Government urged to tackle urban pollution and traffic jams with rail buses

Considered As a cornerstone of upward social mobility, urban centers are increasingly shrinking under the pressure of overcrowding as people continue to commute daily to city centers in search of greener pastures. Despite a jam-packed population, infrastructure moves awkwardly at a snail’s pace, creating a huge development vacuum and related problems.

A notable challenge prevalent in metropolitan areas such as Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt (Rivers State) is the ongoing traffic congestion, especially during peak hours. The resulting loss of working hours, stress-related health crisis and air pollution are daily conundrums that residents are forced to deal with.

In this regard, rail buses – light bus-like passenger wagons – have been developed as a major environmentally friendly means of transport to help relieve traffic congestion in cities on the one hand and to combat environmental pollution on the other. go.

In research published by ScienceDirect, Han-ru Li of the Research Institute of the Ministry of Road Transport in Beijing, China, observed that as the process of urbanization accelerates, urban traffic congestion becomes increasingly more rigorous.

He also noted that the contradiction between population, resources and the environment was also becoming increasingly important and recommended a green transport system as a solution.

Li said, “Green transportation is a low-carbon and environmentally friendly mode of travel. The active promotion of green transport is not only good for the intensive use of road resources, the reduction of traffic jams, the reduction of energy consumption and the improvement of air quality, but also, in as long as a return to healthy lifestyles and leisure, good for the improvement of the health of citizens.

“From a transport perspective, a green transport system includes walking, cycling, regular public transport and rail transport. From the perspective of transport vehicles, green transport vehicles include various low-emission vehicles, such as dual-energy vehicles, natural gas vehicles, electric vehicles, hydrogen, electric vehicles and energy vehicles. solar.

He further argued that green transport includes different types of electrified transport vehicles such as trolley bus, tram, light rail and metro, describing it as a new concept and a convenient, safe, efficient, urban transport system. low pollution, humanized and diversified.

Li added, “It adapts to the development trends of the habitat environment, is led by public transport, and coordinates with the ecological environment and urban development. Green transport advocates the reduction in the use of private cars, the increased use of walking, cycling and public transport, as well as the use of clean energy and vehicles. It is an inexpensive, non-polluting, land-resource and space-efficient transportation system suitable for all types of travellers.

An essential element of green transport, the railbus was developed by a team of ambitious visionary entrepreneurs, industrial designers and transport specialists. An ultra-light forward rail system, the railbus aims to solve an age-old problem faced by millions of people in many cities lacking in infrastructure.

“Railbus is more than a solution to transport problems; it creates and supports sustainable development in any country,” Dubai-based manufacturing company RAILBUS Inc said on its website.

The operation of rail buses is similar to the bus rapid transit system operated in Lagos, but with more comfortable travel and environmentally friendly features.

According to RAILBUS co-founder Mark MacLaurin, the pollution caused by rail buses is significantly reduced because they run on hybrid-electric solar power.

He said: “RAILBUS represents the future of sustainable mass transport and will revolutionize the way millions of people live, work and travel. RAILBUS is a leap in transport and will provide mobility, opening up economic opportunities for all.

“Buses are widely used but are extremely overcrowded and cause major traffic jams. Traffic jams also lead to considerable loss of time and productivity. Railbus is an elevated system that provides an alternative transportation solution that relieves traffic congestion on the roads and provides a safe and comfortable way to get around.

The National Executive Director of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, Mr. Paul Ndibe, explained that rail buses were good and could be adopted in populated cities in Nigeria, but with limitations in terms of passenger capacity.

He noted that diesel multiple-unit trains comprising two or more coaches were more suitable for the country’s intra-city rail system, as they could carry multiple passengers at a time.

The transport expert, however, said that if there were enough rail buses that could run at regular intervals like the DMUs, the former would go a long way in relieving congestion.

Ndibe said: “The DMUs have two or three coaches at a time and can work on a schedule. So every 10 or 15 minutes you see one at a designated bus stop. It picks up passengers and moves whether it’s full or not. It’s like a chain. There can be 10 in this pull and it’s designed in such a way that at any given moment you’re in, a train comes to pick one.

“DMUs are used in high traffic areas and are usually seen around airports. They are good for intra-city travel, but the government must first lay out the routes. This means that they must acquire the land to lay the tracks.

“However, if you have a train track where the rail buses as a chain can keep moving in one direction, it can work to decongest traffic, but you have to lay the track first.”

A professor of transport management technology at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State, Chukwudi Ibe, also agreed that rail buses are much-needed viable means of transport to reduce traffic congestion and improve productivity.

He said, “Rail buses are essential means of transport in crowded cities and have the ability to solve the traffic problem. Just create a hold for them and encourage people to use them. Once people are aware, they will adopt them.

Sharing his perspective on the matter, a Professor of Transport Geography at Lagos State University, Samuel Odewumi, said a city like Lagos might consider the rail bus system upon completion of its lines. of rail metros in progress – red and blue lines – to respond more to growth. traffic congestion in the state.

He noted that rail buses would also be appropriate in major cities such as Port Harcourt, Kano and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Odewumi added, “Regarding Lagos, another thing to focus on after the blue and red lines is the yellow line, which is Marina in Epe where Lekki Deep Sea Port and Free Trade Zone are located. by Lekki. The traffic on this axis in the coming year, if the Dangote refinery is ready, will be such that the road will not be able to contain it.

“Port Harcourt tried to do something like that (railbus) but when you don’t finish the transport infrastructure, it’s a problem. It is better not to start at all than to start and stop halfway. From my experience, the cities where I think the rail bus system is reasonable are Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja and Kano. Also any project you want to do, you need to do a cost-benefit analysis. Can you do something small that will serve the same purpose?

At the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, UK, known as COP 26, countries were urged to step up efforts to phase out coal, reduce deforestation, accelerate the transition to electric vehicles and encourage investment in renewable energies.

As countries take steps to achieve Net Zero by 2050 as agreed at the conference, experts say adopting more environmentally friendly technologies in the form of rail buses is a step in the right direction to reduce carbon emissions.

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