Bus strike: Counting the cost

ct busss done (33935451) Courtney Africa ON THE BUS: Judith Ford stares out of the window as her bus is about to leave for Retreat. Buses. The bus strike is over and buses are operational in Cape Town again. Photo: Courtney Africa

Jason Felix

THE city’s transport department has started an assessment on what impact the national bus drivers strike has had on Cape Town’s economy.

“We are aware that for the majority of commuters the strike is likely to have had a significant impact on their income. It’s an internal assessment and we will look at the effect of the strike on the whole of Cape Town, not just the areas (where) the MyCiTi bus service operates,” Brett Herron, mayco member for transport, said yesterday.

MyCiTi operations returned to full capacity while Golden Arrow had 80 percent of its drivers back at work yesterday. Public transport was affected by the month-long strike which ended on Monday.

Some Golden Arrow commuters still used Metrorail trains yesterday and traffic congestion on highways and major roads was the same as during the strike.

Unions, the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) and the Transport Omnibus Workers Union (Towu) and employers bodies SA Passenger Employer Association and the Commuter Bus Employer Association have settled on a 9.5 percent wage increase backdated to April 1 this year, to be followed by 0.5 percent more in October.

The minimum salary before the settlement was about R3 900.

Herron said results of the assessment were expected by the end of the week and would be made public.

Meanwhile, commuters on the MyCiTi airport route can continue to use their April monthly tickets until the end of this month.

Golden Arrow Bus Service spokeswoman Bronwen Dyke said 912 of their 1 140 buses operated yesterday.

“Some of our ticket sellers, engineers and general workers have not returned to work yet. There are also some bus drivers who did not pitch up at work,” Dyke said. She said the company’s financial losses were being calculated, but could be substantial. She could not provide more information.

Golden Arrow has re-assured its commuters that rides on clipcards bought when the strike began were still valid.

Metrorail Western Cape manager Mthutuzile Swartz said a decrease in the number of commuters travelling by train was expected today. The strike had forced thousands of bus commuters to seek alternative transport like trains and minibus taxis.

Cape Town traffic spokeswoman Merle Lourens said there was still no sign of a reduction in morning peak-hour traffic congestion yesterday.

Herron said: “I am relieved and pleased that the strike is over and that public transport buses, including Golden Arrow, Sibanye and MyCiTi, are back on the road. The strike was prolonged and this had a severe impact on hundreds of thousands of people who rely on the bus services for their daily commute.”

Towu spokesman Tony Franks and Satawu provincial chairman Wayne Louw could not be reached for comment.


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