Kenya’s transportation system – Waiyaki way Star bus – Cheap is expensive.

For those not familiar with Kenya’s transport system, it is highly dominated by the private sector. On paper, this business is one of the most lucrative to indulge in. The numbers leave you on the edge as successful business owners openly share their per day returns. The vehicles I am referring to carry a maximum of 33 people who pay to get to their various destinations.
Having lived along Waiyaki way for almost a decade, I have seen different 33 seaters dominate the route. We call them matatus. From the common Star bus came Metro trans which later split* to Super Metro. The latter two transport matatus joined the route as the towns from Nairobi to the last stage – which is Kikuyu Town – expanded and grew.
Needless to say, Star bus has been dominating the route from the late 1990s.
This article primarily targets Star bus’ peculiar habits of late and during the off-peak hours. During peak hours all these matatus behave the same. Either because of the presence of traffic police or crowded roads as people drive to work.


Star bus are less expensive than other transport matatus. They will cost Ten Kenya shillings cheaper than their competitors. For this reason, the touts get the illusion that you must board their vehicles. Once you do, you are bond to wait for a very long time as they try to convince another customer to board. If you board, do not be in a hurry.


The average time of any public transport from one stage – Kinoo* – to the City Center is around half an hour.
Assuming you board from Kinoo. There are 15 common stages matatus use as a pick up or drop off points.
2. Uthiru
3. Kwa miti
4. Mountain
5. Kangemi
6. Waroko
7. ABC
8. Safaricom
9. Brookside
10. St Mark
11. Sarit
12. Westlands
13. Chiromo
14. Town University way or Town, Ngara
15. Nairobi City Center.
Average time spent on each stage is roughly 3 mins or less to call for commuters to fill empty seats. If the vehicle is full, it takes less time since it only drops people who have arrived at their destined stage. So, as you approach the city center, most matatus go dropping people and reach the city center almost empty.
This is rarely the case for Star Bus. These 15 stages can be broken down to even 20. Both the driver and the tout have this working code of stopping at every stage whether or not their vehicle is full.
Hell has no fury if you board it when almost empty. They will stop at every stage. A parking spot will be converted to a stage. They will stop where there is a group of people and ask them if they are going, yet they found them standing and talking amongst each other. When the driver thinks he can stop, he will. If the tout decides he can stop the vehicle for the sake of it, he will stop.

Stage habits

Every stage has a common design. Vehicles should park on the left and should be within the curve of the stage but not Star bus. A star bus driver will park at the entry edge of every stage without failure. This leaves the rest of the stage wide open.
This habit will always create unnecessary traffic. Hooting to the driver only makes matters worse. He will look at you from the side mirror and look at his tout from the other side mirror. If the driver notices no one is boarding he will hoot back. If you insist on hooting, he will only step on the accelerator, remove smoke from the exhaust and remain the same spot until he sees the boys in uniform -traffic police.
One of the most annoying stage habits is when the tout goes to talk to other touts or when the driver stops on an empty stage filled with other touts only to either change drivers or yell at each other all at the expense of your time.
In summary, if you are in no rush to reach the city center or don’t mind listening to either Classic 105 FM or same old good reggae vibes then these matatus are ideal for you. If you are for some reason tired, want a quick nap on your way to the city center then you will not go wrong with these matatus.
All the information shared above is from observation and is very common during off peaks times from 9 am onwards. It also relates to a one-way journey to the city center. On your way back is another story you may want to look forward to it all together.
*they did so sometime in 2014 although there is a need for clarification.
*Kinoo is small town located along Waiyaki way

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s