Until recently, Nairobi lacked a strong strategy for addressing the city’s public transport needs, including the integration of non-motorised transport. However, in the past several years, the city has made significant progress in establishing clear transport policies and developing forward-thinking projects related to Nairobi’s problems of traffic delays, air pollution, and limited space for pedestrians.
In 2012, with a loan from the World Bank, the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) pledged to incorporate BRT into a project to upgrade a major road from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, past the city center, and northwards toward Uthiru. In 2013, with support from the Global Environment Facility-supported SUSTRAN East Africa project, ITDP began working with KeNHA to provide direct technical assistance on the development of the BRT along this corridor.
ITDP developed a service plan to define the routes, stations, and frequencies of the BRT services to run on the corridor, now known as “Line 1.” ITDP also brought in world-class BRT engineers to provide guidance on the design of BRT infrastructure. Finally, noting a critical gap in the Nairobi BRT plans, ITDP worked with the government to route the BRT infrastructure directly into Nairobi city center. Gold-standard BRT infrastructure in the city center will bring huge benefits to BRT passengers and will help catalyse the revitalisation of downtown Nairobi.
More recently, ITDP has worked with the Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (NAMATA) to update the BRT Design Framework to create a common set of guidelines for BRT projects in the city and ensure an integrated approach to the planning of new corridors. The Design Framework calls for robust corridor, station, and intersection designs, paired with good walking and cycling access. To ensure that high-quality non-motorised transport facilities extend throughout the city, ITDP is working with the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development, and Public Works (MOTIHUD) to develop design standards for urban streets in Kenya.
ITDP is also recommending changes to the Nairobi Master Plan towards a more transit- and pedestrian-friendly city. Paired with a gold-standard BRT through downtown Nairobi, compact transit-oriented development with requisite parking reform may finally begin to change the urban form in Nairobi, putting eyes on the street and breathing new life into a highly congested city.