Addis Ababa improves mass transit options with new express bus service

Addis Ababa’s new Sheger Express bus system is changing the face of public transport in a city where close to 60% of the population walks to their destination. With the demand for public transportation at an all-time high, the launch of Sheger Express buses promises some relief.

Features of the Sheger Express bus include ease of access for the elderly, physically challenged, pregnant women, and children, air conditioning and a GPS. Passengers can expect a faster commute, with buses arriving at limited stops about every 10 minutes. When service launched at the end of May, transit users waited in long queues to take advantage of a free trial service on 10 Sheger Express buses running from Mexico Square to Shiro Meda.

Sheger Express buses include a ramp for passengers in wheelchairs, the first such service in Addis Ababa and Ethiopia as a whole.

Mayor Deriba Kuma, Ethiopia’s former Transportation Minister, said at the launch ceremony on May 27:

“Curbing our transportation challenge improves the quality of life of this city’s residents while enhancing our nation’s image. We have launched many initiatives across the transport sector including enhancement of Anbessa Bus, the Light Rail Transit (LRT), bus transport for civil servants, traffic management, etc. This is an important day, yet much work remains to be done.”

Within three years, Sheger, the bus operator, will also introduce two additional new services including the city’s first school bus service and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. The BRT will be a high quality public transportation system with an aim to provide faster, more comfortable and cost effective service through a dedicated bus lane. To ensure the development process is inclusive, and address any potential questions about the BRT’s impact on Addis Ababa residents, plans are now underway to engage citizens on a wide range of issues from future disruptions to the bus logo and design of stations.

Photo collage courtesy of City of Addis Ababa 

Addis Ababa means New Flower, a fitting name for this rapidly urbanizing city. In September 2015, residents boarded the first LRT in sub-Saharan Africa, quickly mastering this mode of transport, which was new to many. Despite some initial skepticism, the trains now operate at full capacity with up to 15,000 passengers per hour per direction and 60,000 in all four directions.  

With reasonably priced tickets – a 4-6 kilometer trip costs 2.00 Birr (9 US cents) – now in the market, an additional 250 Sheger Express buses and four limited stop routes will soon become operational.

To learn more about Addis Ababa’s express bus plans, see the following article: Ethiopia: Addis to Get 50 Express Buses By May