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Passenger safety, key component in public transportation safety nets : The Standard

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Ola Akinnusi, Country Manager, Bolt Kenya.

Road accidents and the associated injuries are a major cause of death and disabilities around the world. Traffic crashes are facing a growing trend in our ever changing transport systems.

According to the recently published Global Status Report on Road Safety by World Health Organisation (WHO), a majority of the deaths occur in developing countries. In Kenya alone, between 3000 and 13 000 people lose their lives in road traffic crashes every year, most of them in their prime (15-45 years). 
Nearly one-third of the deaths are among passengers – many of whom are killed in unsafe forms of public transportation. 
Recently, the world commemorated World Day of Remembrance for road traffic victims themed ‘Life is not a car part’. Closer home, the event brought together stakeholders and other corporate bodies among them ride-hailing firms like Bolt who partnered with National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) to enhance awareness on industry affairs and foster future healthy collaboration for the greater good of the industry. 

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During this event, it emerged that the nature of our public transport including type of road mobility in place, still contributes to an unbearable number of deaths, serious injuries and illnesses every year. The cost from these accidents to the economy and families is staggering and necessary actions needs to be put in place to help mitigate this growing trend.
The fight to mitigate road accidents in the country should not only concentrate on combating road carnages alone but also ensuring the safety of the passengers on board. This approach will make the initiative holistic, as passenger safety is a major component in the quest to curb road traffic accidents in the public transport sector.  
The advent of on-demand transportation services into the public transport arena has in the past years revolutionized the industry in many ways.  

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The introduction of ride-hailing services has not only increased convenience for people seeking transportation, but also enhanced better compliance with regulations thereby enhancing safety nets.  
These ride hailing firms have measures to ensure necessary oversight to protect ride-hailing passengers from unscrupulous operators, which in the long run, is key in boosting public transport safety and security. 

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For instance, the ride-hailing economy has put forward comprehensive programs based on a combination of well-trained personnel and organizationally integrated industry where vetting of vehicles to ascertain their road worthiness is taken seriously before signing them into the platform as a step to ensure passengers’ safety. 
For seamless and faster responses to passenger issues and queries, the firms have dedicated customer support teams handling high priority cases with a quick turnaround time and good interventions by the security personnel. Additionally, access to SOS emergency button and emergency tracking option assist in providing the exact riders location while on transit, car model and license plate number thereby greatly improving rides and driver safety on the roads. 
Measures such as infrastructural design – which are often informed by black-spot analysis, vehicle characteristics – particularly compulsory installation and use of safety belts, and driving behavior – such as blanket speed limits in urban areas has formed part of the weekly communications shared with driver-partners to ensure road safety and passenger security are achieved in equal measure. 
Moreover, most of the ride-hailing apps have strengthened their respective driver screening processes and introduced emergency assistance apps for their customers to further strengthen ride safety of their customers on the platform.
Under these views, there is an increase in driver’s performance quality and consequently, a boost in public transport safety. 

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The on-demand transportation services have experienced significant growth since their introduction. Their rapid adoption and diversification of services have expanded peoples’ mobility options and passenger safety, contributing immensely to the general public transportation safety and security. 
We look to a future of diversified on-demand mobility services as a way to expand the benefits of ride hailing services to more people and enhancing safety and security in the public transport industry.   
The writer is the Country Manager for Bolt (formerly Taxify)


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