Ivan Zhakata-Herald Correspondent
Zupco and the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) yesterday afternoon gave passengers on the three Harare bus-rail routes free rides to Mufakose, Tynwald and Ruwa on a Friday “Happy Hour” set up to thank them for using the new rail services and introduce new passengers to the services.
Zupco provided kombis to ferry passengers from bus terminuses in the city centre to the train station.
Each train can carry 1 000 passengers, 100 in each of the 10 coaches.
The Mufakose train was full, while Ruwa and Tynwald-bound trains had good numbers.
Herald reporters were on the Mufakose train where passengers applauded Zupco for the promotion.
Mr James Makiwa said he was happy with the “Happy hour promotion” and hoped it continues.
“The train is important to us and it is cheap, so today we are happy with the promotion. We beg that they start to carry passengers early so that there will be no delays,” he said.
Another passenger, Melody Mhlanga said it was her first time to board a commuter train, but she was satisfied with the service she got.
“I am impressed with the rail service. About the happy hour promotion, I think it should be a weekly thing as it motivates commuters,” she said.
Zupco regional operational manager Mr Tito Chirau said the Friday Happy Hour was meant for passengers to experience and have an appreciation of the rail services.
“We want people not to be skeptical about the service. We want to thank the people who have been supporting us and we are inviting more people to come and experience the service.
“We are still deliberating on what to take in the near future and we are still exploring the market. Zupco kombis will be providing shuttle services from ranks to the trains station from as early as 3 pm so that there won’t be any delays,” he said.
Earlier on Zupco announced that trains will be free of charge to thank those who have been using the train service.
“Please note tomorrow Friday 24/9/21 (yesterday) all the afternoon Zupco-NRZ train services will be free. (afternoon only). This is to thank all of us who have used the service thus far and importantly to request that all of us try the convenient ride home. Once you try you will never stop,” said Zupco in a statement.
Early this month, Zupco partnered with NRZ to to upgrade peak hour services along the lines of rail. Buses are laid on at the suburban ends in the morning and evening peaks to bring passengers to the stopping points and take them home, with the same ticket being used for both train and bus.
Government recently set up an inter-ministerial committee chaired by the Minister of Local Government and Public works July Moyo to look into how traffic congestion in cities could be eased, with effective public transport seen as essential and the rail lines, which bypass the congested roads, needing to be used.
The committee attributed congestion to the increased availability of fuel on the local market and increased economic activities. This meant more people were using their own cars and experience in other cities has shown that to compete, public transport had to be efficient and cost effective to get people to leave their cars at home on work days.