Nairobi News

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Varsity students’ Magic Bus that hopes to solve Nairobi commuters’ hustle

A group of university students from Earlham College in the US have come up with a way for public service vehicle commuters to book for a seat of a matatu from their phone without having the trouble of making long queues at the bus stop.

Magic Bus is a text based ticketing service that allows commuters to pre-book buses using mobile phones hence reduce the waiting time for buses. The model is first being introduced in Nairobi.

A person is required to dial a short USSD code, select destination, and route, choose a pickup station, choose a bus option, and then pay via M-Pesa which will be followed by a text confirmation.

Once a user selects their vehicle of preference, they proceed to pay and move to the bus stop within the expected arrival time of the vehicle. Magic bus currently operate on Rongai and Buruburu route.


“Nairobi has a total population of 3.5 million people of those, seventy percent of those use matatus to commute from their home to the CBD. And we noticed that the major problem commuter’s face is waiting for long hours at bus stations for the matatus to come,” says Iman Cooper co-founder of the Magic Bus.

“The Magic Bus solves this problem, firstly commuters can arrive closer to the actual departure time essentially reducing long waits.”

Bus fare ranges from 40ksh to 60ksh depending on time. The group have also introduced a new product called the Magic Wednesday where commuters pay as little as 10sh.

The team of five, including a Kenyan Wycliffe Omondi, came up with the idea for a challenge for the Hult Prize, funded by Bill Clinton, whose contest this year was the creation of a better model to connect people to goods and services in crowded urban spaces.