Travel experience in Madagascar: national transport seen from the capital city

12/02/2019. Who has never complained about transport in Antananarivo? Whether it is the disrespect of passengers and crew, hygiene (or rather the lack of hygiene), or the slowness of the buses, the list of grievances is as long as my arm and the reasons to complain are numerous. But do you think the same applies to national transport?

Today’s survey concerns national transport as seen from the capital by the people of Tananarivo. A survey that will have concerned 900 people interviewed in the streets.

Are the people of Tananarivo accustomed to national transport?

Well, our survey shows that almost half of Tananarivians have already travelled on national lines, 49%.

In terms of frequency of travel, it was found that almost 2/3 of national travellers, or 61%, travel once a year by bush taxi on national routes. A further 18% travel twice a year and only 8% use national transport three times a year.

The rest of the votes represent only a small part cut up as follows:

  • 4%: once a month
  • 3%: once a week
  • 2%: 4 times a year
  • 1%: 5 times a year
  • 1%: 6 times a year and more
  • 1%: more than once a month
  • 1%: less than once a year

The reasons for these trips focus mainly on pleasure and relaxation, as 62% of travellers turn to national transport to go on holiday. The second most common reason for travel is to attend a family event, with 23% using national routes, while the third most common reason is to attend a business event, with 13% using national routes. We note that only 1% justify their travel on national lines by their studies.

With a road in such good condition, it's literally "good road".
With a road in such good condition, it’s literally “good road”.

It should be noted that among those who have already travelled on our national transport lines, 26% use a fixed cooperative and 59% are accustomed to making reservations.

Quality of service in national transport

Car comfort

Asked about the comfort of the bush taxis, 46% of the travellers questioned replied that the cars of the cooperatives are comfortable.

Next, 37% consider that they are only relatively comfortable, while 16% told us, on the contrary, that national transport vehicles are not comfortable at all.

The number of vehicles

Of the number of cars, 45% believe that they are quite numerous and another 45% believe that they are more or less numerous. Only 8% of them think that the Malagasy national cooperatives do not have enough cars.

An TATA. There aren't many of these old vehicles left in the square.
An TATA. There aren’t many of these old vehicles left in the square.

Punctuality

If there’s one thing customers grumble about, it’s the lack of respect for schedules (especially departure schedules).

Thus, when asked about the punctuality of the cooperatives’ cars, 37% of the regulars of national transport confirm that they are punctual. But for 35%, they are not always punctual, and for 26%, it is worse: for them, bush taxis do not respect the planned timetables at all.

Cleanliness

If cleanliness is, let’s face it, neglected in some buses in Antananarivo, what about national transport cars? Well, according to 43% of national transport subscribers, cooperative cars are very clean. For 42%, the national transport vehicles are relatively clean (moderately clean, it is said?), while for some 14%, these vehicles are really dirty.

Possible problems related to national transport

Of course, when you use national transport in Madagascar, there are recurring problems that you will have to deal with. Here is how the Tananarivians have experienced them:

Problems encountered before and during the tripYesNo
Change of seat without the passenger’s consent10%90%
Passenger overstaffing21%79%
Lost Luggage11%89%
Car breakdown on the road36%64%
Departure delay39%59%
Solidarity to repair a breakdown along the way
Solidarity to repair a breakdown along the way

In conclusion, what can we learn from this survey on national transportation as seen from the capital?

While a little more than half of Tananarivians have never travelled on national lines (51%), they either use other means of transport (personal vehicles and rental vehicles in particular) for their travel, or they hardly ever travel at all. At least, our survey reveals that the majority of Tananarivians who have ever travelled on national lines take the time to go on holiday once a year (61%). The other reasons for travelling are more related to family and professional obligations.

And then, with the number of vehicles circulating throughout Madagascar, essentially saturating large cities like Antananarivo, surely Malagasy people can afford to travel without using public transport.

From an organisational point of view, it also seems that national transport is less of a grumble for passengers than urban transport. This is by no means gratuitous praise for national transport operators, but it is clear that “only” breakdown and delay rates are really a problem.

Welcome to Madagascar: even outside the city of Antananarivo, bush taxis are still congested.
Welcome to Madagascar: even outside the city of Antananarivo, bush taxis are still congested.

In some serious co-ops (you probably know which ones), the departure time is well specified. Each passenger reserves in advance and is then required to respect the schedule. The agents of these cooperatives are able to call you 10 minutes before the official departure time if you are not there. And if you’re still not there at the specified time, well, it’s simple: they’ll leave without you. Logical, I think.

In other co-ops, you show up in the morning not knowing when the car will leave. Of course, because nobody’s booked! And when you ask the driver or his assistant, how many more passengers have to wait before you go, they will answer “more than 2”. Yeah, that’s right, yeah. 4 hours and 5 extra passengers later, the bus still hasn’t left. Anyway, it will always be a few hours late at these underground cooperatives.

At least, the problem of overstaffing of passengers concerned only 21% of those who have already experienced national transport lines. It is true that on national routes, in principle, it is one seat for one passenger, which is not the case on some regional routes. Imagine finding yourself in a minibus, packed like a sardine not fresh in its juice, when it is still hours away. Hello the heat and the vomit especially.

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