This fall, GIZ conducted the MoveWindhoek Transport Survey on board the City of Windhoek’s municipal bus system, and the results were sobering: almost half of customers rate the bus service as poor. The survey aimed to establish a baseline before the City shifts operations to a network of 14 new lines next year.
Over 8 days, a team of six survey staff distributed paper questionnaires on 16 different bus lines and routes. The team achieved a total sample size of 842, out of an estimated 10,000 daily bus passengers; respondents overwhelmingly live in outlying, informal townships such as Otjomuise, Okuryangava, and Goreangab.
Confirming anecdotal observations, passengers are overwhelmingly of low income, as 40% live in households earning less than N$1000 per month; not surprisingly, two-thirds report taking the bus in order to save money.
Passengers report being satisfied with the value for money provided by the bus service; on the other hand, over 60% are dissatisfied with travel time as well as waiting time for the bus. Indeed, Windhoek’s buses ran infrequently and rarely according to schedule in the past, suffering from heavy congestion during peak hours. Passengers riding the new lines, which were recently introduced and are based on the Sustainable Urban Transport Master Plan, were nevertheless significantly more satisfied with both aspects than those riding the old pre-existing routes--note that route and line refer to two different types of bus operations. Even these new lines clearly leave gaps—in Okuryangava, at the northern edge of the settlements, 61% of residents were dissatisfied with when and where buses run.
Turning to future improvements, 55% of respondents desired improved time performance; the share is even higher in the most northern informal suburbs of Hakahana and Okuryangava. Stops closer to home and work, faster service, and decreased crowding round out the list of popular improvements. More surprisingly, a full 20% mentioned all day service as one of the most vital changes; currently, buses run only in the morning and evening rush hours.
Finally, when asked how the City could best inform them about bus service changes, passengers decisively preferred newspaper, radio, and TV to other types of media.