Why would anyone want to stand in a BRT? I once asked my best friend. We were comfortably seated in the bus and were prepared to relax for we were on our way home from Oshodi market where we had gone to shop. Bus Rapid Transit, popularly known as BRT (or as I liked to call it- Babatunde Raji Transport) was one of the comforts the Lagos State governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola had blessed us Lagosians with.
The bus was big and tidy, the seats were comfortable and the best part was that there were no sweaty, loud, unruly conductors. All you had to do when you reached your bus stop was to pull a cord to alert the driver. BRT was a welcome change and the sometimes too long queue couldn’t change my mind; it was the best thing that had happened to Lagosians since sliced bread. Who would not want to travel in comfort at a reasonable price? It was this question that made me eye with disgust a fellow passenger who was clutching at the bars in the bus to hold himself up. Why would anyone want to stand in a BRT when it was the same price to sit? I would rather sit in those beat up half dead danfo buses and suffer the saliva showers of the conductor and the sweaty armpits of other passengers than stand in a BRT surrounded by people who were comfortably seated. At least that’s what I thought.
Three years later, I was a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University waiting for my service year which was still five months away. I had applied for a temporary job as an independent marketer for Evermore Properties Investment Limited, a property firm and was on my way to Ikeja for my interview which was an hour away. I was first delayed because there were no okada’s to take me to the bus stop. When I finally got to the bus stop I was stunned by the terribly long queue waiting for the next BRT but I knew from experience that danfo buses going towards Ikeja were rather scarce in the mornings so I joined the queue. About twenty five minutes later an empty BRT bus pulled over but unfortunately it got filled before it was my turn to enter. I was faced with a dilemma- I had about fifteen minutes left to my appointment. I could either wait for the next BRT and get to my destination very late or I could stand in the available one and get to my interview a few minutes late. Since I wanted to make a good first impression and not get to my appointment too late, I took the latter option. It wasn’t until I was gripping the bars in the bus trying to stand upright that I remembered the statement I had so ignorantly uttered three years ago.
Why would anyone want to stand in a BRT? Now I knew why.