In the last couple of months, there’s been a lot of talk about phasing out 14-seater matatus in favour of higher capacity buses. This is in an effort to decongest Nairobi’s streets and hopefully have more people preferring public over private transport. But will 35 or 50 seater buses solve the problem? Why not have buses with higher capacity?
When Nairobi’s population was a fraction of what it was currently, we had double decker buses that for a reason unknown to me stopped plying Nairobi streets. Stagecoach briefly reintroduced them in the 1990s before the company went belly up and the buses left our streets.
Earlier this week, while in Kangemi, I spotted a Routemaster, the original double decker bus and having my camera with me, I just had to document this beauty.
It’s current owner bought it several years ago as a memorabilia. It didn’t even have an engine when he bought it and had to be towed to where it sits today. While other fathers built swings and see-saws in their back yards, this father bought his children a bus they could play in.
Upper deck. The headroom isn’t too great up here. I had to stoop a bit to move around. I don’t think that was a problem though since the only time one stood was when boarding and alighting.
A joke was told about passengers on the No. 237 Stagecoach double decker buses that plied the Nairobi – Thika route: they preferred to travel in the upper deck because they believed they’d get to their destination faster than those in the lower deck.
Steps leading to the lower deck.
The panel above the driver’s cabin was used to display the route the bus was plying.
I believe the typography in Kenya’s old number plates was a thousand times better than what we have today.
Speed limits were lower than today’s 80.
The Routemaster’s tyres will tell you where it’s been. This one is still inflated…
…with tread that is the envy of many PSVs running our roads.
This one has had it’s fair share of life.
Structurally, the Routemaster is sound, despite the rust and loose panels. A couple of weeks of extra loving and it would make a comeback on our roads, most likely as a tour bus.