Johannesburg - With 300 000 vehicles a day entering and leaving Sandton - a number which is expected to increase by 50 percent over the next 10 years - the city's department of transport has come up with an integrated plan, focusing on public transport.
Lisa Seftel, executive director of the department, said various transportation forms were being taken into account.
These include the Rea Vaya bus lanes, which are under construction, new cycle and pedestrian lanes, new bridges that will link Alexandra and Sandton, and the restructuring of Metrobus and park-and-ride sites.
The Rea Vaya trunk and complementary routes will include stations in Westgate, Hillbrow, Randburg, Ekurhuleni, Midrand, Gandhi Square, Sunninghill, Emthonjeni informal settlement and eventually Greenstone in Edenvale.
Earlier this month, the City of Johannesburg turned the sod for a R130 million pedestrian and cycle bridge over the M1 to cater for about 10 000 people who commute daily between Alexandra and Sandton. A new bus rapid transit bridge will also be constructed over the M1.
The project is expected to be completed by December 2016.
In addition, the Watt Street interchange will be improved and the Pan Africa site will be transformed into a Melrose Arch-style development that will offer accommodation as well as retail and office space in one place so that people won't have to use transport to get to shops and work.
Seftel said the transport department was also working with Gautrain authorities as well as metered and minibus taxi operators to implement the closure of the existing Sandton taxi rank, which will be temporarily housed on the corner of Katherine Street and Albertyn Avenue.
A new taxi-holding facility will be constructed on the corner of Katherine and West streets. Provision will be made for a taxi rank for 50 vehicles at the Gautrain station.
“All of this will lead to a denser public transport network, making public transport more accessible and reducing the need to use a car to come into the Sandton CBD,” Seftel said.
PARK AND RIDE
The city is also meeting the owners and developers of Brightwater Commons in Ferndale, Montecasino in Fourways and Nicolway in Bryanston to discuss erecting park-and-ride areas.
“We will also be looking for sites along Louis Botha Avenue and Old Johannesburg Road for dedicated park-and-ride facilities to develop in partnership with Rea Vaya's park-and-ride facilities,” said Seftel.
But the most important thing, she said, was behavioural changes in motorists and commuters.
“Building infrastructure and introducing services will not necessarily mean that people will get out of their cars to use public transport or cycle. The city has to enable and support behavioural changes through providing high-quality public transport information and making sure that using these modes are safe. This can be done through awareness, enforcement and education campaigns,” she said.
To this end, the city last week hosted a cycle week to encourage people to start using bicycles. In October, it will be hosting a month-long Eco-Mobility festival in Sandton in partnership with the International Association for Sustainable Local Government.
Addressing Sandton businesses earlier this month, mayor Parks Tau said that unless the city started taking immediate steps, Sandton would be a mere “parking lot where people will not be able to get in and out”.
“We can't build more lanes, as there's no space. We need a combination of solutions,” he said.
“Part of this is our ability to effect commuter and motorists' behavioural changes. This is possible as we saw during the 2010 World Cup, where people used public transport. I believe it is possible to change commuter patterns.”