‘Driving a taxi different from driving a bus’

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Copy of ca p1 MyCiti Bus8738 Independent Newspapers File picture: David Ritchie

Cape Town - Taxi drivers from Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha are to begin their training as MyCiTi bus drivers on Tuesday.

The six-month training programme will equip them to drive the MyCiTi buses on the N2 Express.

A month before the new route’s launch on July 5, the Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (Codeta) and the Route Six Taxi Association entered into an agreement with the city for 100 taxi drivers to be trained at a cost of R29 000.

The mayoral committee member for transport, Brett Herron, said 25 taxi drivers from Khayelitsha and 25 from Mitchells Plain would be trained first and the rest later this year.

The N2 Express service has been running for just over a week and has 1 314 registered commuters.

Forty-eight Route Six drivers would begin their training at the Golden Arrow bus depot in Montana, Belhar, the association’s chairman, Henry Williams, said. A number of Codeta drivers would be with them.

They would have to leave the taxi industry as they would be trained every day for the next six months.

They would receive a stipend.

“You can’t have unqualified drivers. They have the lives of many in their hands. The drivers will be driving buses that cost about R1 million each, which means we cannot take chances. Most of them are not too inclined with technological systems, which means training in this aspect has to be done.”

Those who failed the course would have to register again.

“Everything has to be in place and the drivers needed for these buses need to be excellent. Driving a taxi is different from driving a bus.”

But some taxi drivers are sceptical whether the training will lead to them having a job.

Gerrit Fortuin, a single permit holder, said he would go for the training only if a job as a MyCiti driver was guaranteed.

“What happens if we fail our courses? It’s back to school for us. If you fail, you don’t become a bus driver. Then we go back to being taxi drivers, and who says there will be the same number of passengers to transport? Passengers are already opting for the nice MyCiti buses.”

Fellow driver Peter Mthumba said: “Most of the taxi drivers can drive trucks and buses. But we don’t have the licences and most of us do not have a matric. If we fail the city’s course, we are not going to have jobs. I don’t even know if there will be passengers for taxis any more.”

Herron said: “The N2 Express service is a top-up service to add capacity to the public transport services, such as minibus taxis and rail, available to residents in Mitchells Plain. We’re working in partnership with all taxi associations to ensure a fair and transparent process.”

Herron ascribed the success of the roll-out to the co-operation of the Joint Venture Vehicle Operating Company.

“These industry parties have signed a three-year operating contract for the N2 Express service. They are closely involved in the running of the service and have taken ownership of the project.”

Herron said passenger numbers would be released monthly. “We have been monitoring these and are delighted with what we have seen.”

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