Pretoria - Tshwane Rapid Transit (TRT) is ready to operate the A Re Yeng bus service as soon as the roll-out of the infrastructure is complete and the City of Tshwane has decided on the launch date.
When the inception phase of the system goes live from Hatfield to the CBD, taxis will disappear from the route and owners will compensated for loss of income.
Taxi bosses in the affected areas will surrender their businesses and be paid out when the three-year inception contract comes to an end.
“The taxi industry cannot compete with A Re Yeng. The owners will be paid for the loss of their businesses. However, they will be encouraged to use the money to buy shares and become part of the TRT,” said board chairman Abner Tsebe.
“Everyone who loses business will be accommodated. No one will be jobless, including the taxi drivers.”
Tsebe was addressing a lunch hosted by the bus operating company in Hatfield on Wednesday, accompanied by his deputy Piet Mahlangu and chief executive officer Bukeka Mahlutshana.
Bus operators also have a stake in the TRT and are represented on the board by Braam de Jong.
The inception phase is for a 7.2km route via Sunnyside from the intersection of Nana Sita and Paul Kruger streets in the city centre to Hatfield, connecting with the Gautrain station. There will be seven stations along the route - two in the city centre, three in Sunnyside, and one apiece at Loftus Versfeld Stadium and Hatfield.
The route was scheduled to be operational in April, but delays attributable initially to events that followed the death of Nelson Mandela in December, and then heavy rainfall and labour unrest, slowed progress.
Tsebe said when the bus operating company entered into a 12-year operating contract with the City of Tshwane, taxis would be removed from the affected areas.
The chairman, who represents the taxi industry jointly with Mahlangu, said the two of them had a mandate from taxi associations in the city.
At least 48 drivers, all sourced from the taxi industry in the affected areas, have already been trained.
More taxi drivers will be recruited and trained as bus drivers as the roll-out of the system continues in phases.
Mahlangu said: “They already look and talk differently to the time when they were taxi drivers.
“They have been contracted with effect from May and now have payslips and are earning decent salaries, allowing them to plan for the families. Some have managed to buy cars and houses for the first time.”
Mahlangu said TRT was determined to run South Africa’s best bus rapid transit system.