Without a doubt, the Madaraka Express has changed the frequency and the experience of travel on one of the more populous routes that is Nairobi to Mombasa and is projected to do the same on the western route as it snakes it way on the various phases. The one oversight that has come to negatively affect the Kenya Railways Net Promoter Score is the issue of ticketing optimization which seems not to have registered on the project management dashboards even as ground breaking happened back in 2013. Infrastructure projects are intense and often take years to complete which means other elements critical to service delivery have ample time to get built and tested.
Even as the management comes to the realization that going digital does not mean getting a series of mobile money tills, the situation offers a good opportunity at learning what it takes to play in the information age while also understanding the place of solid strategy.
Multimodal transit experiences are an everyday experience. Looking at the Madaraka Express, it is obvious that first and last mile linkages would be crucial to the service experience. While it is not possible to cover all the bases as single corporate entity, the ability to offer seamless transit handovers feels like a no brainer. The ability to consume services is critical and management should look at other partners who may not be in direct line of sight, for example mass market retail outlets, who, in a point that I address next offer a ready audience of consumers who are already in a purchase cycle. The list of possible strategic partnerships is long.
In my books, Kenya Railways is not in the ticketing business and their first point of action even as they broke ground should have been to go API first to securely and at scale, expose access to their core billing and operation systems. What this would see them achieve is a wider scope of implementations and integrations that they will never have to build or manage themselves, save for maintaining and extending the API feature set over time. Every airline, taxi business, bus company, other such transit ecosystem player and hundreds of independent developers would provide countless touchpoints through a controlled framework. Sourcing for a silo’d vendor locked ticketing solution would only introduce a single point of failure and higher total cost of ownership.
Let us look at the possibilities with a fresh pair of eyes.