Nairobi matatu route numbers and where to board

Nairobi matatu route numbers are still in use even though most vehicles don’t display them nowadays. In this article we break them down for you and where to board the matatus. It is not rare to see even city dwellers getting lost.

If you are a visitor in Nairobi, whether from upcountry or another country, you may find it difficult to navigate the ever changing city. Yes, it is true that even those who have lived in this city for all their lives have to ask for directions and where to board a matatu for specific destinations. This article will help you navigate this chaotic city.

Public transport system in Kenya

The main means of public transport in Kenya and in Nairobi is by matatu. However there are various ways you can move around in the city today:

1. Matatu transport

The Nairobi matatu culture is renowned across the world for those who have been to Kenya. Matatu is a shared vehicle and have varying capacities: 7, 11, 14, 32 seats for passengers. These matatus are organised into saccos (savings and credit cooperative societies) while others are operated under company names.

Each matatu sacco or company is accredited by the National Transport and Safety authority and is licenced to operate on particular route(s). If a matatu is found to be flouting this rule of routes, it can be sanctioned.

The smaller 7, 11 and 14 seater matatus have a yellow stripe on the body, and on it are written a route number, destinations for that route number, and capacity of the vehicle. The bigger matatus are painted in their particular company or sacco colours.

In some instances however, you may find that some small matatus do not have the yellow stripe, such as those under the MetroTrans company. The big matatus do not clearly show the route numbers or destinations so you have to be careful before you board.

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2. Buses

Once upon a time, there were two major shuttle bus companies in Kenya: The Kenya Bus Service and the Nyayo Bus Service. They were quite organised. However Nyayo Bus collapsed while Kenya Bus is a struggling company to day due to mismanagement and corruption in the industry.

The following bus services operate in today and also use the Nairobi matatu route numbers:

  • Kenya Bus Service
  • Neo Kenya Company (Kenya Mpya)
  • Citti Hoppa
  • City Shuttle
  • Double M Bus services

The operation of these buses is not different from that of matatus. In fact the difference is probably just the sitting capacity, where most of the buses carry more passengers. They fill up the bus by touting, where conductors and touts call out loudly to commuters to board the bus.

3. Matatu hailing apps

The most recognized bus hailing app is SWVL which in recent times has increased its routes to more than 40. There is also the Little Shuttle. Just like you hail taxis such as Uber or Bolt, you can book a shared shuttle for a specific time to drop you at a specific destination. For this type of transportation, you have to book in advance and specify the time of your movement.

4. Taxi and taxi apps

There are numerous taxi ranks across the city where you can take a cab to ferry you to your destination. This is probably the most convenient way to move around the city even though it is the most expensive. A taxi will have a yellow strip or will display a sign on its roof.

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You can also use any of the numerous taxi hailing apps in Kenya to get a cab of your choice to travel. This option is more affordable most of the time compared to the taxis at the ranks.

5. Bodaboda

Bodabodas are all over the city. These are motorcycle taxis which are allowed to carry one pillion passenger and mostly operate within short distances. You can catch one from anywhere in the city and are probably the most convenient in terms of saving time, since they manoeuvre easily through the choking traffic jams of Nairobi. However, these manoeuvres are also probably the most dangerous thrills. Talk to your person to be careful and put safety first.

The only BodaBoda hailing app is by Bolt since SafeBoda left due to poor business.

6. TukTuk

TukTuks mostly carry three passengers. They are small and operate within short distances which are normally not covered by matatus. For instance, you would easily move from downtown CBD to another part such as Country Bus Station using a tuktuk than with matatu.

7. Train

The Kenya Railways Train is used by commuters mostly in the mornings and evenings. The train routes are being revitalised to increase efficiency. At the moment, only a few routes are covered such as between CDB – Kikuyu, CBD – Eastlands via Makadara. It is not the most efficient way to move around today even though it is quite affordable if you catch a train.

Nairobi matatu route numbers and their boarding stations in Nairobi

You should understand that matatus connect city estates and the metropolis with the CBD, estates with estates,  as well as the city with the upcountry. More routes are coming up as new estates are built and more roads are constructed. We continue to update the information as necessary. Today the following Nariobi matatu route numbers exist, arranged in chronological order:

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Nairobi Matatu Route NumberDestination connectionsRoute nameWhere to board matatu in Nairobi
1Karen – Dagoretti Market Karen Stage, Dagoretti Market
2CBD – Dagoretti Corner – Kawangware – WaithakaNgong Rd – Naivasha RdRailways
2BCBD – Dagoretti MarketNgong Rd – Naivasha Rd – Kikuyu RdRailways
2CCBD – Dagoretti Corner – Kawangware – Waithaka – MuthamaNgong Rd – Naivasha Rd – Kikuyu RdRailways
3Dagoretti Corner – Kawangware – UthiruNaivasha RdCorner, Uthiru
4CBD – Pumwani – Madiwa – Eastleigh Section 3 Luthuli Av
4CCBD – Adams Arcade – KabiriaNgong Rd – Naivasha Rd – Kinyanjui RdRailways
4WCBD – Adams Arcade – Wanyee – KabiriaNgong Rd – Nivasha Rd – Wanyee RdRailways
5/5CCBD – Adams Arcade – JamhuriNgong RdRailways
6Eastleigh – Likoni Rd – Lunga Lunga rd – Sinai Eastleigh, Sinai
7Majengo – Gikomba Majengo, Gikomba
7BCBD – Bunyala Rd – Upper Hill – Kenyatta National Hospital Kencom, GPO
7CCBD – Community – Upper Hill – Kenyatta National Hospital Kencom, GPO
8CBD – Prestige – KiberaNgong RdRailways, GPO, Serena
8BGikomba – Eastleigh – Bahati -Jerusalem – JerichoJogoo RdCity Stadium
9/6CBD – Ngara – Eastleigh Garissa Mall Tom Mboya St
10Muthurwa – Shauri Moyo Muthurwa
10CBD – Mbotela – Jericho  
11CBD – Aga Khan – Parklands – Highridge Odeon
11ACBD – Ngara – Stima Plaza Odeon
11BCBD – South B – Balozi – Hazina Bus Station
11CCBD – KICD – Pangani Odeon, Khoja
12CCBD – South C – Mugoya – Bellevue Bus Station
12DCBD – Mombasa Rd – Nextgen – KPAMombasa Rd 
14CBD – Kariobangi North Ronald Ngala St
14ACBD – Madaraka – Strathmore – Texas CentreLangata RdTom Mboya St, Bus Station
15CBD – Langata – Otiende – St Mary’s Hospital –Langata RdTom Mboya St (towards Bus Station)
15/34Kenyatta National Hospital – Mbagathi – Langata KNH
16CBD – Highrise – SowetoLangata RdBus Station
17AGikomba – Saika – KayoleJuja RdRing Rd Pumwani
17BCBD – Kasarani – Roysambu – MwikiThika RdBehind Bus Station
18CEastleigh – Saika – KomarockJuja Rd 
18/62Eastleigh – Ruai – Saika – JoskaJuja Rd 
19CCBD – B Centre – KomarockJogoo Rd – Manyanja RdMfangano St
19/60CBD – B Centre – KayoleJogoo Rd – Manyanja rdMfangano
20Roysambu – Mwiki – Kayole – Mama Lucy Hospital Umoja Roysambu, Mama Lucy
22CBD – Kangemi – Uthiru/Kabete Polytechnic – Ndumbu-iniWaiyaki WayLatema Rd, Lagos Rd
23CBD – Jericho – Harambee – Kariobangi South – Civil ServantJuja RdRonald Ngala St, Tom Mboya
23CBD – Westlands – KangemiWaiyaki WayOdeon
23BCBD – Westlands – Kangemi – Uthiru – Dagoretti Centre MarketWaiyaki Way, Muhuri RdOdeon, Tom Mboya St
23CCBD – RegenWaiyaki WayTom Mboya St
23/30CBD – Westlands – KangemiWaiyaki WayOdeon
24CBD – Bomas – Hardy – KarenNgong RdKencom
25/25ACBD – Allsopps – Baba Dogo – Lucky Summer  
26Jogoo Rd – Makadara – Jericho – Kariobangi Roundabout (Raunda) Jogoo RD
28Gikomba – Huruma – Kariobangi NorthJuja RdGikomba Market
29/30CBD – Survey – Mathare North  
30CBD – KANGEMI – KINOO – REGENWaiyaki WayTom Mboya St
32CBD – Ayany – Woodley – KiberaNgong RdGPO, Kencom
32/42CBD – DandoraJogoo Rd, Outer RingAmbassedeur
33CBD – Ngummo Ambassedeur, Kencom
33CBD – UtawalaMombasa RdTom Mboya Gill House
33ACBD – Embakasi Gate A and Gate BMombasa rd 
33BCBD – Fedha – Nyayo Gate BJogoo RdGill House, Ambassedeur
34CBD – Pipeline – Donholm – CBDMombasa RdAmbassadeur
34ACBD – Donholm – Pipeline – JKIAJogoo rdAmbassedeur
34BCBD – Donholm – Svannah –  JacarandaJogoo rdAmbassedeur
34CCBD – Donholm – GreenfieldsJogoo RdAmbassedeur
35 or 35/60CBD – Donholm – Umoja 2Jogoo rdRonald Ngala St
36City Stadium – Buruburu – Kariobangi South – DandoraJogoo RdCity Stadium
37/38Eastleigh – Saika – Njiru – RuaiJuja RdEastleigh, Ruai
39CBD – Njiru – Ruai – Kamulu – Joska – Malaa – Kantafu Bus Station
40CBD – Mbagathi – NgummoMbagathi wayBus Station
41Gikomba – Kayole Gikomba
43CBD – Ruaraka – NgumbaThika RdBus Station
44CBD – Zimmerman – Githurai – Kahawa WestThika RdRonald Ngala St, Tom Mboya St
45CBD – Roysambu – GithuraiThika RdRonald Ngala St, Tom Moya St
45CBD – Githurai – KUThika RdRonald Ngala St, Tom Mboya St
46CBD – HurumaJuja RdRonald Ngala St
46CBD – Hurlingham – Lavington – KawangwareNgong Rd – Argwings Kodhek – Gitanga RdKencom
47ACBD – Kahawa Sukari – MwihokoThika RdTom Mboya St
49CBD – Clay City/WorksThika Rd 
53CBD – Roasters – Thome – Marurui  
56CBD – Kawangware 56 / Stage 2Ngong RdRailways
58CBD – Buruburu – MesoraJogoo RdTom Mboya Tuskys
60CBD – Kayole Mfangano
61City Stadium – KayoleJogoo Rd – Manyanja RdCity Stadium
69/73CBD – Industrial Area – GM- Imara Daima – Mukuru kwa NnjengaMombasa Rd 
70/71Muthurwa – Lunga Lunga – Sinai – Donholm Muthurwa
100CBD – Kiambu Tom Mboya Commercial, Khoja
101Kikuyu – Banana Kikuyu
102CBD – Waithaka – Alliance – KikuyuNgong Rd – Naivasha Rd – Kikuyu RdTom Mboya Tuskys, Railways
103Dagoretti Corner – Kawangware – Uthiru – Muthiga – WangigeNaivasha Rd – Waiyaki WayCorner, Kawangware, Uthiru
105CBD – Kinoo – KikuyuWaiyaki WayTom Mboya St, Archives
106CBD – Ruaka – Banana Khoja
107CBD – Ruaka – Ndenderu Khoja
108CBD – Gachie – Gichagi Khoja
110CBD – Athi River – KitengelaMombasa RdNear Easy Coach Haille Sellasie Av
111CBD – Ngong Town – KiserianNgong RdRailways
112CBD – Kikuyu – Gikambura  
114CBD – Kabuku – Limuru Roast House
115CBD – Rironi – LimuruWaiyaki WayRoast House
116CBD – Tigoni – Limuru Roast House
117CBD – Syokimau – Katani Rd  
118CBD – Lower Kabete – WangigeLower Kabete RdKhoja, Westlands
119CBD – Mwimuto – WangigeLower Kabete RdKhoja, Westlands
119ACBD – Westkands – Gathiga  
120CBD – Kiambu – Githunguri Khoja
122CBD – Kiambu – Inagi  
125CBD – Bomas – Ongata RongaiNgong RdGill House, Railways
126CBD – Rongai – Kiserian Gill House, Railways
129Kikuyu – Wangige – Ndenderu Kikuyu
131CBD – Zambezi – Nderi  
132Kikuyu – LimuruNakuru HighwayKikuyu
133CBD – Kayole – Mihango  
134CBD – Isinya – Namanga – Oloitoktok River Rd – Ronald Ngala St Junction
135Dagoretti Corner – Kawangware – Uthiru – LimuruNaivasha Rd – Nakuru HighwayCorner, Kawangware, Uthiru, Nakuru Highway
145CBD – RuiruThika Rd 
146CBD – Gatundu  
160CBD – Kibichoi  
201/202CBD – Tala – KangundoKangundo Rd 
236CBD – Juja – JKUAT  
237CBD – Thika TownThika RdBehind Firestation
238CBD – Makongeni – Posta  
*The content of this table is updated for accuracy every now and then

What is the future for Nairobi matatu route numbers?

It is important to note that the introduction of saccos occasioned most matatus to stop displaying route numbers they serve. It is easier to ask a conductor for direction to the stage where the vehicles you need are than asking for the Nairobi matatu route numbers. Only a few PSVs display route numbers.

Also, vehicles to same destinations do not necessarily share a stage or venue for picking passengers. For instance, you can find there are stages for various saccos going to Thika in more than four locations that are distant from each other in the CBD.

Update: There are several terminuses coming up as the government works towards decongesting the city centre. That means some of these matatu route numbers will become obsolete with time if the piloting succeeds.