Market News

Buses suspend booking for juicy poll travel fares

Machakos Country Bus station in Nairobi on July 30, 2017. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO
Machakos Country Bus station in Nairobi on July 30, 2017. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO 

Most upcountry-bound bus companies have suspended booking in favour of on-the-spot payment as demand fuels increase of fares.

A survey of various bus company offices in Nairobi indicated that Western Kenya operators had suspended the service until August 10 opting to serve travellers on a first-come-first-served basis, leaving demand to dictate fares.

Operators said travel dates between August 7 and 9 were the most sought-after, with most passengers willing to pay more to secure a seat.

Nairobi-Butere bus operators who normally charge Sh800 were on Wednesday asking for Sh2,200 while fares to Kitale had risen to Sh1,200, from Sh800. Nairobi-Kisumu shuttles that usually charge Sh1,000 demanded Sh1,400.

Easy Coach, however, has bucked the trend. Managing director Azym Dossa said their 40 buses were fully booked up to August 7 but had opted to retain the usual fares to enhance predictability of tickets.

“We are encouraging advance bookings to help us plan our service offering but what we are seeing now is lopsided advance booking where our buses are driving back to Nairobi empty,” he said.

Eldoret Express, Msafiri, Trans-liner, Matunda, Climax and other bus companies plying the Western Kenya route usually charge between Sh500 and Sh700, but Wednesday they charged Sh1,600.

The 14-seater Eldoret-bound luxury shuttles charged Sh800 up from Sh600 while Kitale-bound luxury shuttles priced their tickets at Sh1,500, up from Sh800.

The firms said the fares may continue to rise even after the elections because August is “a festive season” as schools are closed.