Everyone who has ridden a bus in Lusaka is familiar with the experience of sitting endlessly in an immobile vehicle as the conductor diligently (and deviously) tries to find “just one more.” But then, when the decision is finally made that the current passenger load is sufficient, the consideration of time rotates 180 degrees, with dangerous speeds and nauseating trajectories the norm.
It feels like I have treated this blog like a Lusaka bus, waiting nearly three years to make the decision to move again. Although I am confident that my blogging will not be dangerous, and hope that it will not be nauseating, there is a confluence of reasons for me to kick it back into gear.
First of all, I’m now back in Lusaka. Trying to find my way around a city that continued to evolve in my absence. And this has me thinking about how LSK’s public transport network works. Or why it doesn’t.
More importantly, during the long period of my radio silence, others have been…at the wheel…gathering data to develop tools that are far more functional than anything that I could make.
Among these talented parties, I would like to highlight Sibusiso Ngoma.
During my time back in Canada, I received a small number of requests to discuss public transport in Zambia. The most detailed of these was from Sibusiso, who was a student at the University of Zambia (UNZA) at the time. For Sibusiso’s final year project, he gathered extensive GPS data on bus routes and stops throughout Lusaka; feeding this information into Open Street Maps. In addition to this, Sibusiso refined this data into standardized industry formats that can be used to develop public transport maps and applications.
Although I am currently unaware of any finished applications or web-based tools to help public transport riders navigate Lusaka, I am told that they should be coming soon. After two consecutive days of frustrating trips to south and southwest Lusaka, believe me, I will be checking!