Cape Town’s transport revolution

Industry news

Cape Town is moving closer towards a system that will revolutionise the way the city’s public transport operates. On Thursday, the city officially launched its transport authority: “Transport for Cape Town” - a major landmark in the city’s move to streamline public transport.

All forms of public transport are to fall under this authority as the city moves to take over the management of the government subsidies for the Golden Arrow Bus services and Metrorail.

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Cape Town - 121016 - MyCiti - Public transport within the city centre. PICTUER: RYAN JACOBSCape Town 121018-City of Cape Town has alunched the Transport for Cape Town, an entity that will transform Cape Town transport. Picture Cindy waxa.Reporter Bronwyne/ArgusCape Town - 121016 - Public transport within the city centre. PICTUER: RYAN JACOBS

The biggest changes will include:

A single card that can be used to pay for all forms of transport.

One schedule showing the routes and times of all trips.

A monitoring system to keep tabs on the performance of all operators. Penalties will be imposed on those who do not comply.

Cellphones will be used to map the movements of city residents in planning how best to connect transport modes.

A single branch of law enforcement patrolling on all forms of public transport.

The majority of residents will be no more than 500 metres from some form of public transport.

National transport minister Ben Martins and transport and public works MEC Robin Carlisle were at yesterday’s launch. Among the speakers were mayor Patricia de Lille and mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater Brett Herron

Lucky Montana, CEO of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA, expressed the rail industry’s commitment to the initiative.


Herron said changing the transport system would “address the apartheid legacy”.

De Lille said there would also be increased safety measures and faster travel times.

Carlisle said the government and transport organisations such as Metrorail represented “an alliance of the willing”.

He also praised Metrorail for certain improvements such as getting more trains on the lines and having more of them arrive on time: “Metrorail is coming back from the brink of disaster. Indeed, it is coming back from the dead.”

Technology will play a major role in transforming public transport in Cape Town.

This will be spearheaded by the SENSEable Lab, which was launched by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

ON Thursday the lab signed a memorandum of understanding with the City of Cape Town. This paves the way for the parties to sign an official agreement, with the SENSEable Lab embarking on a year-long research programme.

This was one of the major developments relating to public transport.

Assaf Biederman, from SENSEable Lab, spoke on how technology played a role in improving the quality of life in cities.

The lab was launched to look at the links between people, technology and the urban environment.

In Cape Town it will research why people use public transport and how different modes of travelling can be integrated.

Biederman said the lab was working with cities on five continents.

He said that by 2020, several billion electronic devices would be online; more people were using these devices and this information was ideal when planning changes in cities.

In Lisbon there are trackers placed on buses and taxis. In Singapore, 12 000 taxis were fitted with the trackers. And through the use of cellphones they can track how people are moving. This works by seeing which cellphone towers are routing the calls.

“You can use the data to see where the masses of people are. You can use it to plan a city.”

Biederman said it was a “new approach” to consulting residents, instead of the traditional questionnaires or public meetings.

“The town hall expands beyond the walls of physical places.”

Biederman said the agreement with the city would be signed soon.

“In Cape Town we will be looking at pushing the boundaries of innovation.”

Biederman said technology was also a low-cost way of connecting with millions of people and drawing them into the discussion.


Cape Town’s residents are weighing in on all things transport-related.

It’s part of a LeadSA initiative and is run by the Cape Argus and Primedia’s 567 Cape Talk.

Commuters using public transport and private motorists are participating in the Go-Cape-Town 360 campaign. On Twitter, users can follow the campaign using #GoCT360.

People are being asked to voice their gripes as they travel around the city and are also urged to share helpful advice, such as the easiest routes from one part of the city to another.

The campaign is taking place on Twitter, the Cape Talk airwaves and via the Cape Argus newspaper.

On Thursday a rail commuter tweeted that the windows to some trains were being sealed. And Cape Talk then started following the story, speaking to Metrorail for more information.

Another user took to Twitter to enquire why the traffic signals in a specific way were short-timing.

Others are venting about bad driving, such as blocking intersections or “aggressive “road behaviour from some public transport vehicles.

But the campaign also looks for solutions. And soon a company, Find my Way, will be releasing a manual of the shortest routes between two points in Cape Town.

Commuters are also invited to participate in another part of the campaign next week. Cape Talk is looking for residents they can accompany on their journeys to and from work. The idea is to look at the travelling experiences of commuters using different forms of public transport and those using their cars. – Cape Argus

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