Private operation of public bus services : the case of metropolitan Lagos, Nigeria
This thesis is about how public transport bus services are operated by the private sector in metropolitan Lagos. This is to minimise the gap in the existing information about this sector in urban public transport services of the city. This thesis sets out to examine the structure, operational characteristics and the quality of services which they provide for passengers using their services in Lagos metropolitan. In examining the structure of operators in this sector, the study identified two major categories of operators; the individual and the limited liability company. The individual form of operator is further made up of (i) owner - operator, (ii) non owner driver, while the limited liability company, is made up of (i) hire or rental and (ii) company .These forms of operators identified by this thesis have tremendous effects on how public transport is operated in the city. Especially by subjecting public transport services which they provide to disruption and unreliable. The findings in their operation of bus services, again show that there is a decline in the number of buses registered for public transport by this sector. Furthermore, the method of finance in this sector is dominated by the hire purchase agreement reached between the bus dealer and the bus owner. This method of finance is again very informal since no documents are exchanged between the various partners involved. It also explains why public transport in this sector is very crude and unsafe, because the hire purchase aggreement reached between the two parties make public transport operation difficult for the bus owner and subsequently affect the passengers who rely on them for movement. Route shifting and short turning are major attributes in the manner which this sector operate along approved bus routes. Travel fare are often raised by the operators and the more affected are the passengers on longer journeys. Arbitrary increase of travel fare by the operators is often used as a measure to dissuade passengers from overcrowding and overloading their buses since demand for their buses is far higher than supply. Therefore overcrowding at bus stops and overloading of buses are common scenes at bus stops and in buses operated by this sector in Lagos respectively. The study again, shows that the quality of bus services which this sector provide to users are deplorable and unsatisfactory. The indices used for measuring the quality of services in this thesis reveal that there is no schedule bus service operated by any bus operator in this sector, buses are not in good condition, they are overloaded and overcrowed. Ticketing method for travel fare collection is apparently absent, and the duration of bus service is unspecified since operation varies. However, the study concludes that this sector despite its unsatisfactory and unreliable services, will dominate public transport provision in the city for quite sometime in the city and therefore suggests that for any meaningful solution on public transport in Lagos, the activities as well as the problems facing this sector need to be well addressed by the state which this thesis focussed. In other words, the state need to accept the role of this sector not as supplementary rather as complementary to its public sector counterpart. Hence, operators in this sector should be provided with institutional and financial support where need be and be integrated into the conventional public transport scheme enjoyed by the government owned public transport operator.