The MyCiTi N2 Express from Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha has come to a grinding halt after a dispute between the City and N2 Express Joint Venture. Picture by Bheki Radebe/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Cape Town - Commutters in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain have been left out of “affordable” public transport access to the city centre, with at least 22 days of no trains and 179 days of no MyCiTi buses.

Musa Gwebani, the head of advocacy and organising for the Social Justice Coalition, said a person who used the train from these two communities paid at least R200 a month. When the train wasn’t working, a minibus taxi cost a minimum of R50 a day to the CBD.

“That’s R1000 in fares, R800 more than they had planned to pay.”

Gwebani said that to add insult to injury the MyCiTi bus service had suspended its Khayelitsha route.

“The only form of state-subsidised transport available has tapped out of a community with more than a million residents. How does anyone make that kind of financial adjustment? How do you go from paying R200 for something to R1000 without your income adjusting to factor in that change,” Gwebani asked.

It was still not clear when train services on the central line between Cape Town and Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain would resume after being suspended earlier this month. Metrorail also stated that trains would not be running to the most populous areas of the Western Cape “due to the theft of more than 730m of overhead catenary wire in the Bonteheuwel/ Nyanga area”.

Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott said their technical teams were busy replacing several kilometres of overhead catenary and other wire necessary to reinstate power for train operations on the two available lines.

“Our teams are working as fast as they are able to under difficult circumstances to repair infrastructure and to replace the overhead wiring in these high crime and gang-infested areas,” Scott said.

Transport mayco member Felicity Purchase said the city was in consultation with the National Department of Transport to find an amicable solution for the restart of the N2 Express service.

Passenger rail was the most efficient and cost-effective form of public transport all over the world, so it was important that the train service was restored to full capacity and efficiency so that Capetonians could rely on passenger rail, she said.

Brett Herron, Transport mayco member Felicity Purchase’s predecessor and now secretary-general of Good, said the MyCiTi N2 Express was introduced to provide some alleviation to the overcrowding and failing reliability of the train service.

He said Purchase had dropped the ball and that it seemed the City had reneged on its undertaking to negotiate in good faith to find a new operating model for the service.

“The failure of the City to negotiate a new contract also affects job-seekers. They were given free rides on that service to help them get into the city to find employment.”


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Cape Argus