Work on DART, the Dar es Salaam Bus Rapid Transit project, began in 2003 when ITDP found great enthusiasm for BRT in the city. ITDP secured the support of then-mayor, Kleist Sykes, the support of local NGO head Asteria Mlambo, and a partnership with the World Bank, USAID, and UNEP. Shortly thereafter, the City of Dar es Salaam embarked on the development of Africa’s first gold-standard BRT. ITDP oversaw the feasibility study, as well as the business and administrative planning, and has provided ongoing support throughout the planning stages of the project.
In 2013, the city started construction on the DART project, including adding center-aligned BRT lanes and world-class stations on Morogoro Road, one of the city’s main thoroughfares. Through this project, over 1,000 construction jobs have been created. Perhaps most exciting is the fully dedicated BRT-only street which runs through Dar es Salaam’s city center. As a result, the project has the potential to reverse the city’s congestion problems, which currently make it all but impossible to access the city’s downtown by car. The project will breathe new life into Dar es Salaam and increase its economic competitiveness in the East Africa region.
With construction well on its way, the project now faces the challenge of establishing bus operating companies and attracting investors. ITDP is bringing its first hand experience at transforming the minibus taxi industry into shareholders in BRT operating companies from other cities, including Johannesburg and Cape Town. With a re-signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), ITDP is also helping the DART Agency to prepare for the eventual system opening. Once running, the DART BRT will dramatically reduce commute times for Dar es Salaam residents, who currently face upwards of 4 hours stuck in traffic each day. This project has the potential to be truly transformative, improving urban life in Tanzania and curbing the potential for sprawl.
As part of the process, ITDP has helped improve conditions for non-motorized transit in the city. Drawing on ITDP’s expertise in bicycle and pedestrian planning, the team has implemented high quality bicycle lanes parallel to the BRT corridor, as well as safe sidewalks and at-grade pedestrian crossings. This will provide a safe space for cyclists and pedestrians, helping to build a friendlier, more people-centric city.