One of the deciding factors when you are house hunting is the commute. How will you get to and from work to your home? How long will it take? How much will it cost? How much hassle will be involved? This is going to be relevant to people who use public transport. Public transport access varies in different neighborhoods. If that is your only means of commuting then you should probably find a hood that has good matatu access.

What Does Good Matatu Access Mean?

Area Covered

How far into the neighborhood do the matatus go? If a matatu only traverses the main roads but leaves the inner parts of the hood uncovered then that is not good access. The point is not to be dropped off at your door, get an uber for that. Remember Syokimau back in the day before it grew to the hood it is now. A matatu would drop you off by the highway and you would have to get a motorbike from there to your destination. It is better today because there are vans that service inner Syokimau even though they do not get that far. The point is to get closer and to reduce the distance you have to walk.


Some neighborhoods get round the clock matatu service. That is access to public transport whatever the time of night. Other neighborhoods get matatus until a certain time. A good example of such a place is Utawala. This hood is served by City Hoppa and other such buses. That means that past 11 at night, you will have trouble getting home and might have to get a taxi or whatever alternative means.

Number of Vehicles

There are some hoods whose matatus are countable. That means that if everyone who lives in that hood decides to go home at the same exact time or two vehicles are knocked out of commission, there would be an issue with transportation. This is enhanced by hoods that are serviced by matatus that ply different routes. One such example is Nairobi West. You could get there by Langata and Madaraka matatus. There has to be enough vehicles to accommodate the number of people that reside in that hood for it to be considered sufficiently serviced.

Well Serviced Hoods

South B

South B is very close top town. In fact, you can walk to the CBD through the Railways Bridge. South B also has many factions. There is the Golden Gates side. There is the lower Railway Institute side. There is the Hazina side and then there is the Balozi and Diamond Park side. There is matatu service to all these different parts of South B. The only part where matatus do not go is the Capital Centre side of it. However, to get there you could just use Mombasa road, alight at Capital Centre then cross the mall compound and out the rear gate. The hood gets good coverage. There are also many vehicles servicing the number 11 route which means that there is enough capacity for residents of South B. Not all these parts get round the clock matatu service. However, getting from town to South B shopping center is possible by matatu regardless of the time of day. From there a taxi should cost a hundred or two at most. This kind of access makes South B one of the top choices especially for people who keep late and early hours.

Madaraka is a small hood relative to South B. It too has very good matatu service coverage. There is only the shopping center, Strathmore University area and then Akila. There are dedicated Madaraka matatus that ply the number 14 route. You could also get to Madaraka by the Langata and Rongai matatus. It might be small but it is also very well covered. The only issue is that the dedicated matatus do not service eh route until very late at night. After those have retired, you can use the Langata matatus.

Eastlands/ Embakasi

This is usually used to refer to the area from Umoja to Taj Mall (at least where it used to be). The popular public service vehicles for this area are the Embassava. Matatus on this route run throughout the day and night. The only variation comes in how far into the estates they will go. A good place to live due to the excellent public service transport available is Nyayo Estate. There are vans that service the different factions of the estate as it is quite big. Umoja and Donholm get good matatu penetration as well. You can approach the hood through Jogoo Road or Mombasa road. Eastlands is therefore generally a good place to rent due to the affordability of most elements of Nairobi living.

Thika Road

The neighborhoods along Thika Road tend to have very good matatu service. They run for long hours if not round the clock. There are many. They are affordable. They cover a wide selection of factions within the neighborhoods. To single one hood out, Kasarani is a little bit tucked away from the highway but it has its own set of dedicated PSVs that penetrate into the various areas from Sandton to Seasons among others.

  •  Kawangware

This hood is mostly serviced by the buses. In fact, most people tend to forget that there are PSV vans that ply the same route. These same vans also provide service throughout the night. In general, matatus cover Lavington and Kawangware quite nicely.

The issue of commuting can be a real headache and should be seriously considered when choosing a place to live. You would not go wrong with any of the above place with regards to commuting. If things get out of hand you could always use the numerous taxi and motorbike services in the city. Happy ‘javing’!