Pretoria - The snail’s pace at which bus rapid transit systems were being rolled out in Tshwane, Joburg and Ekurhuleni stood in the way of revolutionising public transport, Transport MEC Dr Ismail Vadi said on Monday.
In an interview with the Pretoria News at the launch of October as Transport Month in Centurion, Vadi said he didn’t really understand the reasons behind the long delays. Each municipality had its unique issues contributing to the delay.
The MEC said in some cases, the projects were stalled because of lengthy negotiations with taxi operators who saw the bus system as a threat to their livelihoods. “The delays do not look good on the side of the government,” Vadi said.
He said the 7km inception phase of A Re Yeng in the city was launched two years ago and should have been finished by now.
The next phase, which enters the city via Paul Kruger Street, is next in the line. Service in the inception phases was interrupted following strikes by drivers and the dismissal of almost 100 drivers. “I’ve asked the mayor to file a report detailing the situation.”
Vadi also galvanised support for the introduction of one e-ticketing for all modes of transport.
However, he said the idea was still at an embryonic stage, with a high-level team having been set up to investigate its feasibility.
“We are still working to towards a single ticket system to all modes of transport in Gauteng. Technically it is possible, but you would have to build it for quite a number of years. It is not a one-event type of thing.”
Vadi launched an initiative called Public Transport Friday, seeking to encourage motorists to use different modes of transport to commute to their destinations every Friday.
He also announced plans to host a cycling indaba and the transport career expo.
Modernising public transport
Vadi said that the theme for the transport month this year was modernisation of public transport.
Mayor Solly Msimanga acknowledged there had been delays with A Re Yeng. But he assured: “Gone are the days when people are given projects and the projects are long overdue and go over budget and not releasing the results.”
On e-ticketing, he said, technology would allow commuters to jump from a taxi, then on to a bus and possibly a train using the same ticketing system.
“MEC Vadi said he would be looking into it and hopefully we can have a launch very soon,” he said.
Msimanga said public transport played a pivotal role in the economic activities of the city. “If the transport does not form part of the integration approach, then you are going to fail,” he said.
During Transport Month, the city would be launching a 1000 bicycles project, which Msimanga said would be used by the metro police for patrolling some crime hotspots such as Sunnyside.
Msimanga embraced the idea to finance the infrastructure for the non-motorised mode of transport.
“There are people using bicycles to work. We have to make sure they commute to and from their places in a safer way. We have to make sure that our transport is safer and much more reliable,” he said.
“It is no joke when people have to spend about 60% of their salaries on transport to move from areas like Hammanskraal to Centurion for employment,” he said.
The mayor and MEC then launched an electric vehicle charging station in Centurion.
Earlier in the day, the pair was joined by Transport Minister Dipuo Peters at the Bosman Station for a walk-about and interaction with commuters. Msimanga said a major crisis facing commuters in the city and beyond was the affordability of public transport.