Golden Arrow takes City to court

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iol news pic golden arrow bus GABS INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS File picture: Golden Arrow Buses said on Thursday it had filed legal action against the City of Cape Town over its plans to introduce extended MyCiti bus services. Picture: Sophia Stander

Golden Arrow Buses said on Thursday it had filed legal action against the City of Cape Town over its plans to introduce extended MyCiti bus services.

“The matter was lodged with the (Western Cape) High Court on Wednesday,” Golden Arrow Bus Services (Gabs) spokeswoman Bronwen Dyke said.

The MyCiti bus was the city's own rapid bus service, introduced in 2010 and planned for extension to other areas that Gabs already serviced.

Gabs and its predecessors had been operating road-based public transport in Cape Town for over 150 years.

Dyke said the two, along with Sibanye Bus Services and minibus taxi operators, had been in negotiation for a few years over how to operate the routes fairly and distribute market share equally.

“We are not in agreement with the methodology used by the city to allocate MyCiti operations between the three companies, which will be entering into the negotiated contract,” Dyke said.

“The city has refused to refer the deadlock in negotiations to mediation and arbitration.”

According to Gabs' lawyers in court papers, the city was working out the market share of each bus company by multiplying the total number of passengers with the fares collected, excluding any government subsidies.

The bus services were asking that the city look instead at the “economic sacrifice” being made in exchange for an integrated transport service, or at the total turnover of each service.

“(All we are asking is) that the city embark on a process that is fair and equitable to all operators, based on a sound financial formula,” Dyke said.

The city, in a statement, said it was “deeply disappointed” to hear litigation was being pursued.

“The city has always been committed to open and fair negotiations with all public transport operators in the spirit of achieving this quality public transport service. We respect Gabs' right to protect their business interests, but we will not allow them to confuse their vested interests with the interest of the city and our residents.”

The city said it would respond in due course to the court papers. It announced on Thursday it intended launching a transport authority in October 2012, a single body that would ideally manage all commuter-based services.

Transport mayoral committee member Brett Herron said the body would be an administrative, planning, regulating, contracting and monitoring municipal entity, to spearhead the full rollout of integrated road and rail-based public transport.

“It will set the operational, technical and mobility standards of the road and rail network, as well as how the modes of transport work together for the benefit of commuters in the city.

“One timetable and one ticket for all public transport will be the first priority of the transport authority, under a single brand.”

Herron said the focus would also be to bring into its jurisdiction the management of subsidised bus contracts, like Gabs and Sibanye.

The city would hold a series of public meetings to get input on the body. It was expected to be fully functional in July 2013. - Sapa


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