Nairobi - Post Report Question and Answers

Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

answer - Mar 2024

We are not allowed to use public transportation. There are private drivers, cab companies, and UberX that are all approved, but the matatus (city buses) and boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) are off-limits. - Mar 2024

Matatus (mini buses) are erratic and not safe, and are not allowed for US Mission personnel. Uber is available for taxis, though it can be a bit of a pain because drivers will confirm pick up then cancel or demand an up charge. - Aug 2023

No. - Mar 2022

Most people will find a regular private taxi/driver and use that person. There are no city taxis. Random guys on the street are not trustworthy. The buses are private. They're called matatus. Use them at your own risk. There are also guys on motorbikes that drive people around. They're called boda boda. Use them at your own risk. Bring your own helmet. - Aug 2021

There are a number of rideshare apps now up and running in NBO. Uber and Bold work well and are very cheap. It's also good to get to know some taxi drivers. - Apr 2021

Plentiful but not safe. - Nov 2020

Local buses (matatus) and motorcycle taxis (bodabodas) are dangerous, cramped and we are not allowed to take. Taxis drivers can still be erratic but we are allowed to take certain companies. UBER is widely used by many expats as a safer and cleaner alternative to taxis. - Dec 2018

We aren't permitted to take local buses, matatus, boda-bodas or anything of the sort. We are only permitted to use vetted taxi services, and that's it. However, these approved taxi services know that we are limited, and they'll charge us through the nose. Which is why we use Uber (gasp!). We aren't supposed to, but I'd say at least 90% of COM folks we know use it. We find it safe and have never had a problem. - Dec 2018

Most expats use uber or taxify. The public transport seems quite chaotic here as you have to jump in a large van as opposed to a bus. - Jun 2018

Some taxi companies are good, but it is important to settle on fares before your trip. There is a tradition of haggling here that is pervasive and drivers will usually start negotiations at about twice the amount they are willing to accept.

Local buses (matatus) are not for expats. They are poorly maintained, poorly driven, and poorly regulated. Trains are antiquated and not expat-friendly, as well. When traveling to areas outside Nairobi, flights are the best bet, outside personal vehicles. - Jul 2016

No. Local transport not good for expats - Sep 2015

Only taxis are recommended as safe. They are affordable if you use them every once in a while. - Aug 2015

NO, no, and no. The Embassy has a contract with JimCab, located adjacent to the campus, to keep costs at a fixed rate depending on the destination (but you have to go through motorpool to get the contract rate.) As a result, they are horrible drivers and often are late, or don't know directions. Why should they? They have the contract. - Jul 2015

Taxis are safe. The embassy recommends Jim Cap. They are very cheap. You must negotiate the fare before leaving. - May 2015

Taxis are ok. - Dec 2014

Not safe. - Jun 2014

I've never used them. Buses are mini-buses jammed with a bunch of people and are notorious for their dangerous driving. Taxis are safe but not cheap. - Jun 2014

None. Matatus - local transportation - are neither safe nor reliable. Many of them do not know how to drive - they will often drive in the middle of the road. - Mar 2014

Jim Cab for taxis. The Embassy has set rates with them. RSO recommends you not use matatus or local buses as the drivers don't know how to drive (seriously). - Jul 2013

Taxis with Jim Cab are ok. Anything else, no way. Matatus are dangerous, and if you drive in Kenya you will understand why they are so hated. - Jun 2013

Not safe. Embassy personnel are not allowed to use public transport. - Dec 2012

Taxis are not cheap, although there are a couple of RSO-approved companies with pre-negotiated rates. Rates are similar to what you'd pay in DC. There is supposedly a train to Mombasa. It takes about 19 hours for what a car might do in 6, so this is a not a viable option. USG personnel are not permitted to take buses (matutus). - Aug 2012

No - Dec 2011

I've known someone to take and enjoy the train from Nairobi to the coast. Local matatus (minibuses) and buses are not safe -- drivers are crazy, they are overcrowded, and traffic accidents are a key cause of death in Kenya. If you are light-skinned, you'll also stand out as a target for robbery if you take public transportation. - Dec 2011

Taxis are safe and relatively affordable. Matatus are not safe and even more affordable. I would choose the safe option. - Sep 2011

No. Embassy employees are allowed to use ONE taxi service, and the prices are about eighty percent of US prices. - Dec 2010

Jim Cab is the recommended cab company, with set prices. - Dec 2009

US Embassy personnel can only use one taxi company, but I've been on others. Fix the price before you go; you can bargain. Buses are iffy but an option for long-term travel. White or black, you will stand out as someone with money. - Jul 2009

Affordable, yes, dangerous definately. Public transportation is a mess. - Jun 2008

Matatus are cheap but not in the same area code as safe. Taxis are safer, but not affordable at all. Affordable hired transport is a real problem. - Feb 2008

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