The paper examines the operations of Public Transport in Nigeria using the Kwara State Transport Service as a case study. Public transportation service in Nigeria is provided by both the public and private operators. While the public Corporations are established by governments private service operations are uncoordinated and poorly organized. Due to the inability of transport operators to solve the mobility needs of Nigerians, the Federal Government established the Federal Urban Mass Transit Program in I988 to ameliorate the transport situation in Nigeria. Through this program State Transport Corporations were established and assisted with busses and training in order to actualize the objectives of the program. The study uses data collected from passengers, through questionnaire administration, to determine users' views on the services provided by the Kwara State Transport Service. Data were also collected from records of the Transport Corporation relating to passenger traffic, bus fleet and types, fare charged and organizational structure to assess the operations of the Corporation. Results of the study revealed that operations of government owned Transport Corporations are defective in service delivery and reliability. The paper recommends that in order to make the public transport service in Nigeria responsive to the mobility needs of the people, improvements are needed in the operations of government transport organizations and encouragement of private operators through government assistance.
The level of public transport provision in the third world is very low. Public transport supply cannot cope with the demand. This is due to rapid urbanization and the increasing economic activities in the developing countries which make it difficult for the transportation needs of the people to be fully satisfied.
According to Hilling (1997), there are 40 percent fewer buses per head of population in the third world and the average number of buses operated per 100,000 populations is 65, whereas in the United Kingdom, the figure is 90. In Kuala Lumpur, there is only one motorcycle to 15.4 persons and one car per 11.17 (Wahab, 1990). In low -income households in Jamaica, Heraty (1980) found only one car per 49 persons while in Beijing, private car ownership is almost non-existent and 45 percent of all journeys are made by bicycle (Lam, 1992). In West African cities, generally, car ownership levels is very low, an average of 5 - 15 per 1000 population (Barret, 1986). This compares poorly with cities of the developed countries with an average of 20 — 40 cars per 100 inhabitants (White, 1990). In the developed environment where similar mobility problems exist or where there are some si gns of crisis the maj ority of the populace rely heavily on various forms of public transport for their movement (Nash, 1997).
The advantages of public transport are many; amongst them are its effective use of space, more energy efficient, emit less airborne pollutants, minimize the amount of land used for transport purposes including parking and generally result in better physical environment in urban areas (Hilling, 1996). Public transport has also proved to be an effective tool in combating congestion (Banister, 1998). Because of the numerous advantages of public transport, governments in third world countries are now becoming aware that for developing countries to be more productive, improving public transport should be one of the most pressing items on their agenda. In countries where public transport is provided, the need to make their operations functional in order to satisfy the mobility needs of the people also becomes per tinent . This relates to provision and sustenance of effective services and the planning of public transport operations. This has given rise to this paper. The objective of the paper is to examine the operations of public transport in Kwara State, Nigeria with a view to improving the service and making transport provision more responsive to the mobility needs of the people.
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