For some commuters, going to work means being stuck in traffic for two to three hours every day. File photo: Henk Kruger

Cape Town - Already acknowledged as the most congested city in South Africa, Cape Town has acknowledged it does not have the capacity to sustain the surge in private vehicles on its roads.

With 260 000 cars entering the city daily, its road network is at risk of grinding to a halt - and what makes it worse is that there were nearly three million fewer rail journeys per month during 2016/17 than during the previous financial year, meaning train commuters were abandoning this at-times unreliable mode of transport, opting for road-based transportation.

Mayoral committee member for transport Brett Herron said this was of serious concern as the biggest portion of public transport users relied on Metrorail to commute daily.

“We cannot have our commuters deserting the rail service and moving to road-based transport - in particular private cars - since this would be a massive setback for our already congested roads and our city’s long-term sustainability,” Herron said.

“We need an efficient passenger rail system and we have said before that we will assist Metrorail - within our means, given our limited financial and other resources - to address the challenges they are facing.

“Over the past two to three years, our critical but ailing commuter rail system has endured relentless attacks and setbacks, leaving the service limping along, with devastating consequences for our commuters and our city’s economy,” Herron added.

Funding challenge

What had made matters worse was that a R750 million budget which had been made available two years ago for congestion alleviation over a period of five years was not enough.

“It is important to stress that funding remains a challenge - it is very expensive and time-consuming to build new roads," Herron said. "The only long-term solution is for residents to make use of public transport where possible so that we can reduce the number of private vehicles on the roads.”

The TomTom Traffic Index 2017 revealed Cape Town as the most congested city for traffic, followed by Johannesburg and East London.

'Negotiate with your boss'

Roads agency Sanral’s Western Cape manager, Kobus van der Walt, said: “Cape Town faces numerous challenges, namely a lack of efficient and appropriate alternative public transport services.”

Van der Walt also attributed “an increase in land use development and a rapid rise in population size” to the city’s congestion problem, which, for some road users, meant being stuck in traffic for two to three hours every day.

Automobile Association spokesman Layton Beard urged commuters affected to negotiate with their bosses.

“If it’s possible to start working an hour earlier and then being able to leave an hour earlier in order to skip the traffic, then do it," Beard said. 

"Another option would be to ask if you can work from home and check in at the office once or twice a week.”

Cape Argus

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