The Mercury / 17 February 2012, 08:52am / Sharika Regchand
A billion-rand integrated transport network that is expected to employ 1 000 people and decrease traffic congestion is on the cards for Pietermaritzburg.
The integrated rapid public transport network was launched by Msunduzi mayor Chris Ndlela yesterday.
Pietermaritzburg is one of 12 cities in the country where the network, funded by the national government, will be implemented.
The roll-out of the project, which begins next week, will take about five years to reach the construction stage. However, its benefits will only be seen in about 10 years.
Ndlela said the new plan would integrate different modes of public transport, services, business and infrastructure.
“The new plan will redefine the way public transport functions within the city,” he said.
Beneficiaries of the network included children, the elderly and the physically disabled. The fleet would be designed so that people of all ages, including those in wheelchairs, would be able to use public transport with relative ease.
“Access to public transport will also be improved for rural communities that struggle to get to work opportunities and social services,” said Ndlela.
He said that the modern buses and minibus taxis would use dedicated lanes that would reduce travel time. The net effect would be an efficient city that would make people more productive because they would reach their destinations faster and more easily.
Nandi Mandela, director of Linda Masinga and Associated in Durban, was involved in stakeholder consultations pertaining to the project. She said they would listen to the concerns of various role-players, including taxi operators.
Paris Dlamini, president of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business, said they would ensure that the project benefited small businesses, commuters and communities.
With an efficient public transport system, the city would attract growth and new investments that would, in turn, provide a platform for growth, said Dlamini.
It had been reported that the integrated rapid public transport networks, developed during the 2010 World Cup, were accelerating improvements in public transport in SA.
At the core of the country’s transport strategy – which comprised a multibillion-rand transport infrastructure plan – was an integrated mass rapid public transport network that included rail, taxi and bus services.
The strategy was also expected to improve transport services for more than half of the country’s population.
“The long-term goal of the strategy is to have 85 percent of a metropolitan city’s population within 1km of the network, and provide a transport service that is clean, comfortable, reliable, fast, secure, safe and affordable,” said the report.