File photo: Armand Hough / African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Metrorail has blamed its failure to provide alternative transport for thousands of Central Line commuters left stranded when it experiences glitches on the number of commuters they have to cater for being too large.

This comes after the embattled company provided minibuses for commuters between Van der Stel and Strand following delays of up to 60 minutes on Tuesday.

Metrorail was dealt another blow as electrical sparks damaged overhead wires on a train travelling on the Strand Line.

“It is a challenge for Golden Arrow Bus Services to assist us as well while they have their commitment to serve their customers,” said Metrorail Western Cape spokesperson Zino Mihi.

She said safety was another factor that played a part in their not providing an alternative for the Central Line.

"A recent example was that of a staff vehicle that was held hostage by taxi drivers in Du Noon (Milnerton) - this was in the news recently, where the MEC for transport was alerted and had to intervene.

“On our part, we would also like to reduce the risks of similar incidents happening,” she said.

Commuter watchdog Public Transport Voice (PTV), a body advocating for the safety of commuters, said not providing alternative transport was tantamount to “daylight robbery” and an insult to commuters.

“It also shows arrogance from the service provider. To us it seems that they are more obsessed about the profit than the service they offer commuters,” said PTV spokesperson Dalton Ndongeni.

“My monthly ticket from Khayelitsha to Cape Town should serve as the contract between me and the service provider. Failing to do so, they should provide alternative transport,” he said.

Safety on trains was again in the spotlight this week when a commuter was killed and eight others were injured during a robbery on a train in which the victims were thrown off as it was moving.

The Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) plans to invest R16 million in a joint venture to improve the service and will employ an extra 100 security officers for the rail network. 

“This pilot project is not the only initiative but part of a range of initiatives, of which some are already being implemented, to secure our assets and, more importantly, improve the safety and security of commuters and staff,” said Prasa acting chief executive Martha Ngoye.

Cape Times