What Nairobi Does Well in Urban Mobility
Nairobi has a network of well-connected roads with ongoing upgrades to further improve connectivity. The 2022 opening of the elevated Nairobi Expressway provides a modern link between Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the central business district. The government also is improving the city’s connections with the national road network as part of its Vision 2030 program, which aims to build or rehabilitate 5,500 kilometers (3,400 miles) of roads.
The Kenyan capital has low car ownership rates. According to the Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority 40% of trips are walking, which is one of the highest shares among cities in the Index.
Urban Mobility Readiness Index, Sustainable Mobility and Public Transit scores
Challenges and Opportunities for Nairobi’s Transportation System
Nairobi’s public transportation system is underdeveloped, and most passengers rely on private matutus (minibuses) or boda bodas (two-wheel motorbike taxis). The government is building the first of five planned bus rapid transit lines with the support of the European Investment Bank while a local startup has begun making e-buses available to operators on a subscription basis.
Walking is the most-popular form of mobility, but cycling adoption will remain low without adequate bicycle infrastructure. Kenya’s National Road Safety Action Plan 2023 – 2027 prioritizes the development of bike paths and road crossings for cyclist safety.
Dimensions of the Urban Mobility Readiness Index score
How Nairobi Can Improve Its Public Transportation and Sustainable Mobility
With relatively high fares compared with household income, Nairobi has an expensive public transit system. To help close this gap compared to peers, the city can provide subsidies for transit fares. Options include lowering fares for everyone, lowering fares on an income basis, or selling discounted long-term passes for heavy transit users.
Nairobi's public transit system is underutilized with commuters often opting for walking or using private cars. The city can grow public transit ridership by expanding its bus service to cover a larger area of the city. In addition, incorporating matutus and boda bodas into the public transit offering would help standardize fares and service reliability for riders. Lastly, the city can follow the example of Lagos and invest in the infrastructure required to build a metro to ease road congestion.