LESSONS ON URBAN MOBILITY FROM CHINA

As per my previous post, I mentioned that I will be breaking down into the different things I experienced and observations I made during my brief trip to China. We were hosted in Hangzhou but got a day to tour Shanghai as well.

I will start with what caught my interest the most which is urban mobility. Being a Startup in this space it goes without saying that I had to see what these guys are doing right in Hangzhou that we could possibly borrow or adapt to improve our situation here in Nairobi and Africa as a whole.

First of all I have to give it to them..their infrastructure is top tier! The roads are all smooth, well labeled, sufficiently manned… everything just seems perfect. They have incorporated a lot of technology into this to enable better services. They have a number of tall collection points in the main highways. They have double decker highways…in layman’s language and to bring it closer home, Its like a Thika Super Highway with 2 floors!! I did not experience any traffic! This is in comparison to Nairobi standards of course.

Views from The World Finance Center in Shanghai

There are no round-abouts!! All junctions are controlled by perfectly working traffic lights! Everyone seems to know what to do on the road..I did not see any traffic incident at all!! Clearly they are well disciplined and probably there are heavy fines for breaking traffic rules methinks.

I did my best to try out all the public transportation options available. They have Regular metered Taxis, Didi Global (Uber For China), Shared Bikes, Shared E-Scooters, Trams, Metro, Bullet train, Regular Buses, Tourist Buses, Ferries, Boats etc.

Below is my review for at least what I managed to sample:

Taxi

This was our first mode from the Airport to our Hotel. The Airport Taxis are saloon cars branded Green and grey. Interesting thing is that they have a meter for calculating your fare so there is no negotiation and you are at the mercy of the driver’s route and speed to your destination. They are comfortable and drivers are friendly despite the language barrier. They accept cash or payments via Alipay.

We also got to ride on Didi Cabs, Uber’s equivalent in China courtesy of one of our friends and staff at Didi. Didi is very effective and covers a wider range of transport services. Got to reach out to them for some mentor ship and potential partnership.

Inside one of the metered Taxis

City Buses, Tourist Buses & BRT

I only managed to get a bus ride to the airport although I really wanted to experience the other rides as well. I was especially looking forward to trying out the BRT since we are getting it in Nairobi hopefully this year. We are anticipating how it will work with our Matatus and it has been quite a debate so far.

Tourist Bus in Shanghai

The tourist buses are double deckered and are available in specific stations for touring various parts of the city.

BRT in Shanghai
Inside a bus ride to Shanghai Airport from Hangzhou

The regular city buses are very comfortable and are also well planned. There is a route map for all places in the different bus stations.

Regular city bus

Ferries & Boats

We boarded a ferry to cross over to a different side of the city where we could view the World Financial Centre building. The ferry ride was about 1 Yuan each ie KES 15 since it was a really short distance. You take the whole ride standing just like our veru own Mtongwe ferry in Mombasa. It is however very modern. There seemed to be several ferry service providers going by the different designs/options that were there.

Ferry Ride in Shanghai

There were also water buses and boats also navigating the river in the market side of the town in one of the Traditional villages as well as doing cruises like The West Lake tour in Hangzhou.

Boat Cruise in Shanghai

Two-Wheelers: Shared Bicycles, Public E-Scooters & Motorbikes

There is an encouraged cycling culture in China. This is popular in the smaller quieter towns where there isn’t much traffic. Cities have set up shared cycling stations where you can hire a bike to cycle for an hour to a whole day. There are several public bike stations where you can just pick up one and use it as required. The charges are very friendly ranging from free to the first hour to about 60 Yuan / KES 900 for 24 hours.

Public Bicycle station in Hangzhou

There are also public E-Scooters which were a thrill for me. You just get one at a parking station, pay for it electronically, pay for it and leave it at your destination. There are various charging points and they are actually checked and maintained by the city. We met some of their local officers or “kanjo” at around 2 AM checking them out and arranging them. Some( Don’t ask what we were doing out at that time, story for another day 🙂 )

Electric Scooter Charging point in Shanghai

I actually saw very few private bikes, and the ones I saw were high end superbikes and monsters. Spotted a Honda CBR 1000 and a Kawasaki Ninja somewhere.

Trains: Metro & Bullet Train

We took a bullet train from Puyong Airport in Shanghai to the CBD. It was a fast experience. Went from 0 to a max speed of 431 KPH in about 5 minutes. There was a sonic boom of some sorts when we passed the othe train going opposite direction. There were No seat belts in this train.  The one way ticket was 50 Yuan which is about KES 750 or about $7.

At the Shanghai bullet Train Station

After landing in CBD we took the underground metro to a different part of town. The experience was typical metro style where you could sit or stand holding your self up or lean on a pillar or the wall. The metro is way cheaper and we got to pay 6 Yuan or KES 90 or less than $1 all the way back to the airport!

Inside the Metro in Shanghai (@MyRideAfrica Represented!)

Trams

We got to experience road trams in Shanghai. They are basically carriages pulled by an engine but are not following a specific pathway since they were on the pavements and ferrying people around short distances across streets.

Road tram on a Shanghai Street

Private Cars

A random Rolls Royce driving by in Shanghai

Quite a number of private cars but got to see them mostly over the weekend. People rely on their different modes of public transport since it is very convenient. This is what we are aspiring to eventually get to in Kenya and eventually Africa as a whole. Many of the private cars are new and high end. Also saw several Chinese brands and electronic models.

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So this is what I got to experience so far in terms of public transportation. It will be great if Nairobi could adapt in one way or another some of these innovative ways to encourage use of public transportation and curb traffic for better mobility.

As a Startup, we are doing our best to improve people’s experience in matatus through innovation and technology. We are making good progress and will eventually curb some of these issues in the long run with the help of relevant partners and the local authorities.

My next post will be on technology… stay tuned!

Oh and you can Download MyRide Africa and check out our new booking feature that we are testing with Ubabi Vanpooling to book your direct “flight” from Ruaka to Westlands and back!!

Book a ride with MyRide-Ubabi today!

MyRide Africa in CHINA.

I was privileged to be one of the selected youth to participate in The 2050 Migratory Bird Program 2019 in China last month courtesy of The iHub Nairobi. It was a 3 – Day Event that well represented with participants from several countries as well as the host Chinese coming to over 2000 people in attendance.

Africa was represented by 4 Tanzanians and 2 Kenyans, Martin Kasomo of LIPISHA and myself representing MyRide Africa. Two other Kenyan representatives could not make it due to various reasons.

With Martin Kasomo, CEO – Lipisha

It was a great Tech Expo with a great set up. It involved a lot of breakout sessions, innovative talks, technology demos and mini events. This took place at The Alibaba Cloud Town Headquarters in Hangzhou City. The City is clean, well planned and serene being surrounded by hills and forests. We were not able to tour around as much due to the tight program though but made the best of what was available.

At the venue in Alibaba Cloud Town, Hangzhou.

I have numerous stories to talk about from my experience and will break them down into bits and pieces over the next few days. I had great adventures, talked to business leaders, visited cool places, got lost in the city, tried out different restaurants & local cuisine, played 7-aside football, sang karaoke, played some live music, tried out different modes of transport, flew drones, recorded a Robot Live Band (Couldn’t jam with them though) and made so many international friends.

Attached are some pictures of what went down. I did not have a pro camera with me so I just used my phones.

Enjoy and stay tuned for the next piece…

Live Address on Big Screen!
Testing Out various Drones
Talking a walk in Shanghai
Riding Metro Train from Shanghai Airport to Shanghai CBD
Brian Wong from Alibaba Group
2050 7-Aside Soccer Team
Shanghai BRT
A Street in Shanghai.
Session on sorting Traffic using AI
River Cruise in Shanghai
Magnetic Bullet Train doing 431 KPH in 2 Minutes
Some of The World’s Tallest Buildings at Pudong, Shanghai
Outside the Shanghai World Financial Centre
Self Driving Autonomous Car
Bicycle with a Jet Engine!

Meanwhile Download MyRide Africa and check out our new booking feature that we are testing with Ubabi Vanpooling to book your direct “flight” from Ruaka to Westlands and back!!

MATATU INDUSTRY HEROES! – George Kariuki

Every once in a while we get to see the humane side of our fellow humans of Nairobi putting in mind the hectic nature of thee Matatu Industry in Nairobi. There are many undocumented acts of kindness that we at MyRide Africa would like to highlight and acknowledge. Feel free to forward them to us in case you have a recent one you remember and we will feature it here on our blog and App feed!

Here is one that happened yesterday:

  1. GEORGE KARIUKI – DRIVER – KCJ 254A – 44 COMPANY SACCO

My hero of the day is George Kariuki. George is a bus driver dedicated to his work in matatu industry along Thika road. Earlier today one of his passengers Philomena Mbithi went into labor in the bus. The conductor and other passengers, ladies included, took off.

Perhaps with minimal options, George gathered strength, guided the helpless mother in delivery and as soon as the baby’s head popped out he rushed mother and baby Raymond to Neema Hospital along Thika Road. The two are safe and excited to be together.

He says.. “When the head popped I helped the lady push the baby, I told her to hold the baby, closed the door and rushed her and baby boy to Neema hospital. I also called her husband Benjamin Mbithi who was in Narok and later followed up to ensure baby and mum are okay”.

George later resumed his duties happy that he saved two lives.

Please help me congratulate this Good Samaritan. Isn’t he an angel?

George can be reached via his mobile phone number 0725470942

Here is a video of his encounter.

 

MATATU CHRONICLES – Tout of my dreams!

Vibe… Viiiiibbbbeee my people’s viiiiiiibbbbbeeee!

Okay, calming down… * inhale exhale*

So there is this guy! He swept me off my feet. No really he did!… I remember like it was yesterday… But when I think about it it was yesterday ( technically the day before I first put this down)

So I’m waiting for a matatu at one of those make shift bus stops and after about an hour of waiting for an empty javv this one shows up.

Super relieved though I was super late for a meeting in town! * if you’re reading this and I told you I was stuck in traffic on this day … My sincere apologies!* so I brace myself for that mini battle with other passengers to get into the javv. My matatu people I bet y’all understand the hustle …my Ngong road people eh?
So where was I …. Hmmmh… Yeah… The matatu arrives and oooooh my people there he was! Not your average tout!

This one …heaven sent I tell you heaven sent!!

He was in a black suit ,black tie and a white shirt! Not some boujee suit but compared to the usual funny looking ones *not all some* he was an 11 on my scale of 10… Hus dreadlocks tied neatly in a man bun and the Cologne …. Oh … It just blessed the dusty atmosphere!
So I suited up for battle … Elbows out ! Backpack now being carried on the front for safety purposes! Time for the test of strength!!

Baaaam! This excruciating pain in my eyes! Then I sort of couldn’t see for a while. Before I could get a grip of the door handle I felt my feet leave the ground… A strong set of hands clenching my arms.

All I could think of was … The theme song from a series I loved watching when I was younger…. Something like … Somebody saaaaaaaaaavvvvvvvvveeeeee meeee! * smallvile – idk if that’s the spelling*
And alas! I was now in the matatu…. The tout asking me questions… I reached out for my specs that were supposed to be on me …but now he was holding them. Right eye lens shuttered… My right eye sore and red! * yes that’s what happen to my spectacles …Velma moments*

But for sure this guy has changed my perspective of touts… I didn’t get to know his name… But just in case you ever read this Mr. Goodman Sir thank you for not being oblivious of the distress I was in!

I got medical attention BTW….I’m feeling much better!

MATATU CHRONICLES II – ( Dog days!!!)

Hello,

*wave emoji*

So … Last week … Was one of those weeks with dog days!

Six thirty in the morning and I’m stepping out … It’s a really cold morning and today I decide to put super effort on my dressing.

Then, as I’m walking to the bus stop the heavens opened… A little too wide though. Yaaaaani the rain that poured was on another level! Like have you ever been rained on you decide to close your little umbrella and just strut it tgrough paddles. Well that happened and I’m like “That’s it!” * read as – daaaaaaz it*

Then baaam! It stops raining , and I look like I just fell into a pool and for sure I’m not showing up for class like that.

With no way out ,I rush back to the house and change. Without a forethought * learned joke – evil laugh* I get into Jeans and my Friday tee #Note- this is on Monday morning# its actually written Friday so yes my Friday tee.

This time , I rush to the nduber stop * Nduber (noun) [nduthi- motorbike + Uber]* and set off “cause all the mini buses are full.

So the Nduber experience is one of a kind!!My face is going numb already cause of the wind that’s hitting me smack on the face .Then kicks in the awkward moment when you just agree to whatever the driver is saying because you can barely hear him.

Something like;

Driver: kwbsysvvjaishbsvahan … Eh?

Me: Eeh , that’s true!

Definitely the longest three minutes of the Nduber experience!

So I get of the bike and jet into a matatu and this tout is like ” mmoja tuende ,beba beba fifty fifty tuende” so I get in and guess what? …. Like ….really… *serious face emoji* I said guess!!

Okay… Well we were only two people in a fourteen seated . In uttermost frustration, I just sat there as he used the same line to get more people in.I’m certain my face looked something like this *see image below*

More like the one on the right cause it was one of those glasses days

Then finally we set off *happy dance*

As usual I’m seated right at the front and I unleash this new, clean two hundred shillings note. Fingers crossed that the person behind me doesn’t do the… Aaaargh!  They did it! That irritating poke/ tap  on the shoulder of the person in front of them people do to let you know that the conductor is collecting fare.

So I hand out my money and the note I get back is a very sad crumpled one. Jommo Kenyatta was lying prostrate on that note aki * ignore this bad joke*

……..Moving on swiftly …….

He ,the tout, gives me back one hundred shillings and I’m like ” eeeh two hundred minus fifty ni one hundred and fifty boss!” Then as usual my people have to wait for that one person to complain so they can follow through. The whole matatu goes up in an uproar asking for change
Then the tout insists he said “fifty fifty ” and two fifties is one hundred. The driver on the other hand starts to drive even faster as passengers are now demanding that they’re let to get off.

80km/hr….

Passengers; “Tushukishe!!!” (Let us get off)

100km/hr….. My little people are loosing it and are now huddled in one corner *little people – see next post*

120km/hr …. Now I’m just seated there in silence … We’re going downhill pretty fast…if you’ve been with me in a speeding car I’m certain you understand the scared to the point of silence anxiety I was having there.

Then… We all heard the clanking of the door and the grazing of metal on the road.

In utter most disbelief… There was pin drop silence * allow me to use this composition phrases – its been a minute*

The door fell off * now I’m not to sure if this was scary or hilarious*

The driver stops finally and everyone gets off laughing hysterically!

So trying not to look like a chicken… I join in the laughing. The tout on the other hand runs off and everyone is too tickled to even bother chasing him.

Halfway freaked out halfway tickled I walk away… Praying my next ride is nothing like this!


 

Adapted from:

 https://iamnyona.wordpress.com 

by Nikki Nyona.

Enjoy Your Ride…and Read!

MATATU CHRONICLES …..I can’t even!!!

Hi People!

We at MyRide Africa are glad to announce that in the next few days / weeks we will be sharing posts from this young amazing blogger Nikki Nyona! She puts her experiences in Matatus in a creative way you almost feel as if you were actually seated next to her on that particular ride.

You can get the original posts from her blog:

https://iamnyona.wordpress.com

Enjoy Your Ride…and Read!!

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Hello hello!!!

*Current situation … My little people are screaming* ( little people – see next post)

And I couldn’t wait to put it on paper ( laughing emoji )
So I’m heading out and I’m at a bus stop… As much as I don’t fancy matatus , footsubishi is not an option cause I’m super tired

People always talk of how public transport is boring and a hustle . I’ll not really say its the opposite rather… There is Joy in all situations

I have found entertainment here

So ….

Back to the story…

So yes I get into one of those buses enroute Ngong road. For once the traffic is not as bad and I’m estimating 10 minutes tops for me to get home. Its getting pretty stuffy in the bus and there is this one nagging kid who’s screaming afew sits ahead of me.

Just before I plug in my ear phones cause I can’t take it anymore , the baby goes like ” Mama I need to go!” So I’m like …. Go????

Then now he’s screaming ” I need to nini ! ” so his mother let’s him know they are about to alight. Feeling fed up I plug in my earphones and pump up the volume.

*Running through my mind* (aaaah look at Nairobi … Where are all these people coming from?…. Who’s home though?…. Gosh I’m so hungry!)
Then … There it was!! It hit me!!!

That smell!

( you know that moment when someone let’s it go ( sing it like Elsa ) and everyone is suspicious)

Yes it smelt like a super fart !!!

But then the baby wasn’t crying anymore!

In fact he was outside the matatu with a little smirk on his face something I’ve only seen on telly where the villain is about to escape then gives the  HaHa!  ( okay maybe not a real smirk he just looked calm ….)

Then I saw it ( laughs ….laughs….laughs … Rolls over….laughs)

It was so small yet it made the place stink so bad .
Okay!!! Just in case you have not joined the dots… The baby had pooped in the bus. Not by mistake … The mommy pulled his pants down and there the child let it gooooo ( sing it) Then, they got off .
Now the tout is complaining and one lady points at it . He breaks into laughter and now everyone is talking and giving comments. Those at the back are trying to get a view the perpetuator of the stench and thaaaaat was it !!

The driver stopped the bus and we all have to get off luckily that was a stop away from mine!

Really that has been my highlight of my matatu trip !!!

I can’t even !! ( laughing… laughing ….laughing!!)

 

Mobility Afterwork

We at MyRide Africa are excited to represent at Mobility Afterwork by Metta Nairobi. Feel free to come join us for the talk! Here is more about the event from Metta Nairobi!

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We are excited to launch a new series of themed afterworks on Mobility, Energy and Foodtech!!

The first afterwork will be focused on Mobility in Kenya.

Come and join us Tuesday, February 6th from 7pm at Metta!!
(6/F Belgravia Suite 6A 14, Riverside drive, Nairobi)

Program:
Panel on ” How technology is impacting mobility in Kenya”
with (updated)
– Mbugua Njihia, Head of Business & Partnerships at Sure corporation
– Edward Mbogo, COO at MyRide Africa
– Gabriel Mahe, Business developer at Arkadin
– Nickson Nyakambi, CEO of Mobiticket

Moderator: Abu Okari, Technology writer

and then networking time 🙂

2016 in Review!

 

Was it just me or did 2016 fly past us faster than a Rongai Mathree heading to Jaza wadhii hapo Railways? Anyways, We at MyRide had a good run last year thankfully.

Here are some of our greatest highlights in 2016:

  • Developed new features of the MyRide App and improved on User Interface. We also completed the Owners dashboard or CHP (Complaints Handling Platform).
  • We gained more App users (Downloads) and got an all time high of retained active users. We are close to 5,000 downloads now on Google Play and have about 20+ people interacting with the App daily.
  • We interacted with and made great contacts with various stakeholders in the Matatu Industry including SACCOs & PSV Owners, The Public Transport Operators Union PUTON, The National Transport & Safety Authority NTSA as well as other bodies dealing with road safety.
  • MyRide was also featured in High profile interviews on National TV as well as  in digital and print media. You can view the Interview on K24 TV Morning show here. Also, In the wake of TICAD 2016, MyRide got an opportunity to be interviewed and featured in the Nikkei Asia Review Magazine by renown International Journalist Ken Moriyasu. You can read the feature here!
  • We also crossed borders by participating in International forums like The Africa Business Idea Cup finals in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
  • Finally, one of our greatest moments were when MyRide  took part in various competitions and was able to win various awards as listed below:

The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program Fellowship

We were greatly privileged to be selected among The 1,000 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program 2016 fellows. This was out of 45,000 Applicants Africa Wide. 

ADMI Entrepreneurs Bootcamp

MyRide was also represented in The Africa Digital Media Institute (ADMI) Entrepreneurship Boot camp after emerging as winners in The Airtel Disruption By Design (DXD) 2015, Tech Category.

Africa Business Idea Cup 2016

 

MyRide Kenya was one of the two Kenya finalists in The Africa Business Idea Cup 2016 that took place in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and battled it out with 9 other startups from all over Africa.

TransDev Transport Challenge

MyRide alongside two other start ups will be meeting investors i Paris, France this February after successfully making it to the finals in The Transdev Mobility Challenge held at The iHub, Nairobi.

AITEC Anti-Corruption App Challenge

MyRide Kenya was 1st runners up at last year’s Anti Corruption App Challenge organized by AITEC East Africa ICT Summit 2016.

In conclusion 2016 has taught us a lot and we took the lessons straight up. We are already applying what we learnt to make things better. All these enabled us to forge on further in making steps towards formalizing the Public Transport Industry in Kenya and Africa as a whole.

This year we are also bringing everything Public Service Vehicle (PSV) related in Kenya into one place. From the coolest matatus to the latest in policy as well as whats happening on the road. From now you can refer to us as #TheMatatuGuys

We are looking forward to greater things this new year starting with the launch of our new version of the App which is all inclusive with very exciting features and awesome User Experience.

The App is currently under test so watch this space!

Beba beba!!