The city of Johannesburg and Alexandra taxi associations look set to collide after the council said it planned to move the Rea Vaya bus rapid transit route to Louis Botha Avenue from Oxford Road.
Alexandra taxi associations have expressed shock. They claim they were not consulted before the council took the decision in October to change the route.
Alexandra Randburg Midrand Sandton Taxi Association chairman Nicholas Mphokeng said: “This is the first we hear of it. Why did they make this decision without consulting us?”
He said he would meet with his executive and other members to decide the way forward. For the moment, he and his members were “in shock” at the news.
The city says the decision about the location of the route lies with the council and not the taxi associations.
All interested parties, including residents and taxi and bus associations, would be brought on board and negotiations would start soon.
Mayoral committee member for transport Rehana Moosajee said the decision was made only recently, and consultations would start soon.
She said Alexandra taxi association representatives had been involved in the planning of Rea Vaya since 2006 and had been taken on a tour of Bogota in Colombia to see the model on which the Rea Vaya system is based.
“There will be further full consultation with them,” she said.
The route was changed from Oxford Road after numerous objections from residents along the northern suburbs route.
The residents threatened to take the matter to court. The route would have involved buses travelling down side streets because expropriation of land along Oxford Road would have been too expensive.
The new route along Louis Botha Avenue has been welcomed by local residents, who say it will result in the upliftment of the area.
Orange Grove Residents’ Association chairman Roger Chadwick said they had not yet been advised which, if any, buildings or land would be expropriated.
“We plan on having a public participation meeting to discuss the matter further. There are many derelict buildings along Louis Botha Avenue which could be demolished.”
A report, which was approved by the mayoral committee, states that the Louis Botha route, although not part of the initial phases of Rea Vaya, formed part of the longer-term, approved BRT trunk network in terms of linkages between Alexandra, Ivory Park, Midrand and the city centre. It would have been a future BRT corridor in its own right, said the report.
Louis Botha has two lanes in each direction. The two middle lanes will be used for the Rea Vaya buses. Fifty percent of the route will require “significant” land acquisition and demolition of buildings for road-widening purposes, according to the report.
The Louis Botha alignment will give Alexandra residents better access to universities and health institutions in the city centre, Braamfontein and Auckland Park, says the report.
The route serves 20 million bus and taxi passengers a year.
DA spokeswoman on BRT, Marcelle Ravid, said: “This will give Alexandra residents, after many, many years, a choice of their mode of transport. Travel times and operational costs between the two routes show that there is not much difference, with the actual overall cost being less expensive than the Oxford Road option.”
The biggest drawback to the Louis Botha option was the time-frame for implementation. She said: “An environmental impact study will have to be undertaken and, together with new planning, land acquisition and public participation, an estimated four years will be needed for this trunk route to be completed, as against the two years it would take for the Oxford Road,” said Ravid.