Short of Trams, Addis’s LRT Teeters to Effectively Deliver Service
By Sisay Sahlu
ADDIS ABABA – Manager of Addis Abeba Light Rail Transit (LRT) says the dwindling number of trams in the transit system is affecting its services to residents of the capital.
Currently, Addis Abeba Light Rail Transit has 41 trams in its system. But only 34 of them are currently giving service while the remaining are either under maintenance or could not be repaired locally.
Its manager said the situation may force them to send a few of the trams abroad for maintenance saying the country does not have full-fledged maintenance center.
This has considerably hampered the LRT’s work to provide effective and timely service to the residents of the capital, said Muluken Assefa, general manager of the LRT.
The general manager spoke with members of urban development, construction and transport affairs standing committee of Ethiopian parliament, who were on field visit to LRT on Monday.
Request for the government to buy at least 20 trams is yet to be acted upon by the authorities.
“It has been over a year that the Transit since the request lodged to the board of Ethiopian Railways Corporation for additional 20 trams,” said Muluken.
He said the trams could have shortened the waiting time at stations for passengers. The general manager boldly claimed that “If we have acquired the 20 trams, the LRT could alleviate issues related to public transport in” Addis Abeba.
LRT is currently transporting at least 120,000 people per day.
But the total revenue collected from the daily passengers remains insufficient to sustain its activities as well as maintenance related works.
Muluken told MPs that problems related to repairing the trams and other challenges are hiking the cost of managing the LRT. He asked for the government to find a way to subsidize Addis Abeba’s light railways.
Managers of the LRT are trying to fill the finance gap from a newly found source. The recent start of effective inspection on travelers without boarding ticket generates 800,000 Br.
The managers are now contemplating to start a flat fare payment system for a journey instead of basing it on the distance traveled.