Cape Town - MYCiti, touted as the answer to Cape Town’s public transport woes, appears to be failing commuters, now receiving more brickbats than bouquets.
The city, however, is adamant that the bus service is only experiencing minor problems.
Among the complaints from commuters is the overloading of buses, buses not arriving as outlined in schedules and problems being experienced with “myconnect” cards.
Particularly at issue appears to be the Civic Centre-Table View T01 route, which is the busiest and one that has recently drawn the most complaints.
The route was extended to include Du Noon and Atlantis earlier this year, but many commuters who were previously happy with the service appear to have changed their minds. And disgruntled passengers have taken to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and HelloPeter.com, a service rating site, to share their frustrations.
Vanessa Anderson said the service was not good enough.
“Four buses later and still not able to board a bus as they are chock-a-block full, and again, Table View station’s traffic flow requires empty buses to load. Come on, this is not service. I expect that you will apologise for inconvenience – not good enough.”
Almarie Mead added: “I catch the bus from town to Table View during the week and I am shocked and appalled at the following: excessive overloading of passengers, too few buses to cope with large numbers of commuters trying to get home from 3pm onwards, the timetable is not adhered to at all and the electronic screen has not worked for weeks.”
Mayoral Committee Member for Transport Brett Herron’s view is that the problems are “teething problems” and he said steps were being taken to sort them out.
“The uptake on most routes has been phenomenal and with the growing passenger numbers, we have seen feedback and complaints being posted on social media platform and in mainstream media.”
The number of passenger journeys increased to more than 970 000 by the end of last month and Herron said the service needed to settle. Adjustments still had to be made – by passengers and the operators.
“With the introduction of a new service, teething problems are bound to occur as the reality differs to the systems and operational plan.
“As a result of the bunched roll-out, these teething problems have been exacerbated, resulting in an increase in passenger complaints.”
He said not all customers complained and that those who did, accounted for only 0.3 percent of the total passenger journeys.
“The City of Cape Town is continuously in search of solutions to improve commuters’ travel experience and to exceed their expectations.
As such, certain improvements commenced on March 31 following a number of passenger occupancy surveys that were undertaken in the weeks prior to the challenge,” Herron said.
With a large number of passengers getting on at Du Noon, by the time buses get to the stations in Table View, they are already full.
Despite having a total of eight of the 18m buses, certified to carry 59 seated passengers, 71 standing and two in wheelchairs, and 30 12m buses that carry 45 seated passengers and 41 standing, a MyCiti driver said the buses were often overloaded.
The driver, who asked not to be named for the fear of losing his job, said overcrowding was the biggest problem they faced, and that drivers were concerned.
“The service is going down, it is poor now and not the same at all. It is because they don’t care about the passengers at all.”
The driver, who has been working for MyCiti since 2012, said many more people had been using the buses since the start of the year. This had put a strain on the service and drivers.
“More people are using the bus now and there aren’t enough of the big (21m) buses.
“The passengers keep asking what will be done about the overcrowding, but we don’t have answers to give them because the overcrowding also affects us as drivers.
“Driving a bus with more than 100 people is not easy,” the driver added.
The buses not only became more difficult to drive, but having the lives of so many people in his hands was not something to take lightly.
“We have to stop at all the stations, even if the bus is already full, and if more people get in we can’t do anything about it.”
Antoine Smith, lawyer and consultant for Kidrogen, one of the operating companies, said the new route roll-out affected their drivers as they also had to act as ambassadors when customers complained.
“However, every route roll-out has a direct effect on the drivers, since it has to do with the driver being subjected to act as an ambassador on all the questions the travelling community would like to inquire about the service, and the connectivity to other areas not catered for.”
He added that drivers were bombarded with complaints and queries every day.