It is a historic moment for Lagosians as the long-anticipated Lagos Blue Line Rail officially commenced commercial operations on Monday, September 4, 2023. The inauguration was marked by an eventful journey taken by Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and a host of other government officials, signifying the transformative impact this infrastructure will have on the state’s transportation landscape.
The inauguration saw Governor Sanwo-Olu take on the role of a ride manager, personally boarding the train from the first coach and walking through to the seventh coach. Accompanied by his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Bimbola Salu-Hundeyin, and other dignitaries, the governor’s ride aimed to highlight the significance of this moment for Lagos.
The journey from the Marina station to Mile 2, a distance that usually takes considerable time by road, was completed in just 17 to 20 minutes, with a brief 90-second stop at each station along the route.
During an interactive session with the media, Governor Sanwo-Olu urged residents to purchase the Cowry card, an integrated payment system that allows access to the rail service. He also issued a stern warning against pedestrian crossings on the electrified rail track to ensure safety.
Governor Sanwo-Olu expressed his gratitude to former President Bola Tinubu for initiating the comprehensive transportation master plan in Lagos, encompassing rail, waterways, and road infrastructure. He further revealed that the Redline rail project, which is nearing completion, will be commissioned by the President before the end of the year.
The Managing Director of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Engr. Abimbola Akiajo, provided insights into the Blue Line’s operational plans. During the initial two weeks, the train will run 12 trips daily for test-running, but on full operation, it will run 76 trips from 5:30 am till 10 pm, accommodating a staggering 175,000 passengers daily.
Akiajo emphasized that each station stop would last no more than 90 seconds, ensuring a strict adherence to the schedule. The metro service will operate in both morning and evening phases, with continuous daytime tests to ensure operational excellence.
Safety measures have been meticulously implemented, including the installation of 300 cameras at each station and along the tracks. LAMATA strongly discouraged eating or drinking on the train to maintain a clean and orderly environment.
The initial fare for each trip stands at N375, thanks to a 50% fare reduction introduced by the governor. However, it may increase to N750 once this reduction is lifted.
The Lagos Blue Line Rail is a monumental achievement for the state. It was commissioned in January by former President Muhammadu Buhari, marking a significant milestone in the state’s transportation ecosystem. Lagos has become the first sub-national government in Africa to fund and deliver a rail system from its own resources.
The Blue Line, constructed by China Civil Engineering Construction Corp, links the mainland and Lagos Island, significantly reducing road congestion. It is expected to move about 250,000 passengers daily when fully operational.
The integration of technology into the project, including electrified rail tracks and the Cowry Card payment system, reflects Lagos’s vision of becoming a smart city. Additionally, strict safety measures, including securely fenced tracks and pedestrian bridges, have been put in place to safeguard commuters.
The Lagos Blue Line Rail is a game-changer that will alleviate traffic congestion, stimulate business activities, beautify the environment, and enhance the overall quality of life for Lagosians. It is set to attract foreign investments, boosting the state’s revenue and making Lagos a model for efficient urban transportation.
With the successful launch of the Blue Line and the ongoing construction of the second phase, Lagos is well on its way to realizing its vision for an integrated and sustainable transportation system, bringing the road, rail, and waterways under one cohesive network, accessible through the Cowry Card payment system. Lagosians can now experience a true multimodal system of transportation, making their daily commute more convenient and efficient.
In the words of Governor Sanwo-Olu, “With the Blue Line, the Sanwo-Olu administration’s vision for an integrated transport system is becoming a reality. Now, Lagosians can experience a multimodal system of transportation through the road, rail, and waterways with an integrated mode of payment via the Cowry Card.”