The council is taking steps to help its employees avoid traffic congestion. Picture: Henk Kruger / INLSA

Cape Town - The city council is proposing flexi-time, compressed work weeks, staggered shifts and remote working for employees, as ways to reduce congestion on the roads.

It says it’s prepared to take the lead and become the catalyst for other employers in the city by introducing core working hours of 10am to 2pm for its more than 25 000 staff.

It would also consider offering parking cash-outs to staff who opt for alternative modes of transport instead of parking their cars in the CBD.

The council is also considering issuing a 20-year tender for a bike-sharing initiative located near other modes of transport such as railway stations, to promote intermodal transport.

These are some of the proposals contained in a draft traffic demand management strategy published for public input until 28 October.

Mayoral committee member for transport Brett Herron said the city wanted residents and businesses to engage with the document and put forward their proposals for alleviating congestion on the roads.

“The purpose is to encourage motorists to shift to alternative and more sustainable forms of transport or to shift their travel behaviour and arrangements so as to reduce the number of cars on the road during the peak period,” he said.

According to the report, the historic and inflexible working practices adopted by companies that require employees to start and finish work between 8am and 5pm had contributed to the natural travel peak periods in the city.

Cape Town had also not embraced global working practices such as telecommuting, shared workspaces and satellite offices to reduce traffic congestion.

Over the past two years, the morning peak hours on the city’s roads have increased from two hours to four hours - from 7am to 9am to 6am to 10am.

“Much of this peak period is driven by rigid working practices or policies of the majority of employers. These practices sometimes deter highly skilled and talented people from accepting formal employment at these organisations,” said the strategy document.

Herron said if the strategy was adopted by the council, the city would begin engaging other employers about implementing flexi-time working hours.

'We cannot solve traffic congestion on our own'

Any changes in working conditions for city employees would have to be done in accordance with labour laws and follow due process, he added.

“Residents and the private sector will have to assist us in creating more space on our roads through changing their behaviour and travel patterns.”

Other traffic demand strategies contained in the document include introducing specific travel times for freight transport, adjustments to fares for public transport, car pooling and car sharing.

The city said it was open to route proposals from bidders for a bike-sharing initiative, but was particularly in favour of a route from Woodstock through the CBD and the Waterfront to Sea Point.

The introduction of flexi-hours, a variable day or staggered working hours, the city said, would affect the number and timing of trips on the city’s roads.

A compressed work week would allow employees to work full-time hours in fewer than five days a week and therefore reduce the number of trips they take.

Remote working or telecommuting would have the same effect.

The council is proposing its employees are either able to replace a peak-hour commute by working from home, then travelling to their normal place of work, or work at a satellite council office for a specified number of days or hours a week.

“This option has the most potential for reducing pressure on the peak period, though it would require a higher level of management system to protect the integrity of the system,” said the report.

Financial incentives by large employers such as parking cash-outs, could also encourage more efficient commute modes. Commuters would be offered the cash equivalent of the parking cost where subsidised parking is provided by employers.

The city would like to see these strategies become a reality over the next five to 10 years.

“Even if residents opt for carpooling only once or twice a week, this will make a significant contribution to alleviating traffic congestion,” said Herron.

The city would also like to see priority given to high occupancy vehicles on freeways, arterial roads, bus and minibus taxi lanes, and even introducing queue-jumping lanes.

Cape Argus

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