Transport officials, planning experts and business are divided on solutions for Cape Town’s overburdened mass public transport system. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Transport officials, planning experts and business are divided on solutions for Cape Town’s overburdened mass public transport system that could grind to a halt if ways are not urgently found to accommodate its growing urban population and to alleviate increased traffic congestion on the roads.

One of the City’s ideas to deal with the problem of congestion on the roads is the rolling out of a flexible working programme (FWP) which would involve buy-in from provincial government and business if it is to work. The flexible working options that the City has implemented include the concept of flexi-time, a compressed work week, and remote working.

The City’s Mayco Member for Transport, Felicity Purchase, said: “Although the flexible working programme mainly focuses on the interventions that the City can make, residents and local businesses - in particular those with offices in central business districts - are encouraged to also explore similar possibilities.

“The City will be engaging with business in the new year in this regard. Some businesses have also approached the City with proposals to assist with alleviating congestion, and we will make an announcement in due course,” said Purchase.

However, Rory Williams, the Open Streets Cape Town co-founder and Board chairperson, sees things differently.

“I have difficulty with the way the congestion issue is usually framed. If we say the objective is to reduce congestion, we tend to focus on solutions that have limited benefit because we are focused on cars, and we ignore the other city challenges that are affected by the way we move around,” said Williams.

He added: “A challenge to be grasped by the City of Cape Town is to create a core network of corridors providing for safe movement, free of motorised traffic and with levels of activity that make them feel secure.”

Robert Vogel of Pedal power said: “We have been talking to the City about bicycle mobility as part of the mobility mix.”

Vogel’s big idea is to have a situation where commuters have a mobility choice where, for instance, as a commuter you could look at buying a bicycle and replace some of your public transport trips with a bicycle journey.

The president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Geoff Jacobs, said: “There is no simple solution. Anyone who claims to know what will work should be cautious in making predictions.”

Jacobs said: “It is more likely that the problem will solve itself as more people work from home, operating in cyberspace, coming into town only when necessary. Meanwhile it is worth considering having our suburban train service run by an entity other than Prasa, under whose aegis our once fully functioning world-class commuter service has virtually collapsed.”

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Cape Argus