'Kiss-and-ride' zones for Cape
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By Clayton Barnes
Commuters did a double-take at boards outside the Kuils River train station at a large new sign directing motorists to a "kiss-and-ride" zone.
It has nothing to do with a "late-night parking spot", as one joker suggested, but rather marks the launch of the city's first park-and-ride facility at the station, ahead of the World Cup.
On Thursday Donald Cupido, the city's integrated transport planning manager, said Capetonians would have to get used to the "kiss-and-ride" signs at stations.
What they indicated essentially, were drop-and-go zones.
"It's basically an area in which people can say goodbye and drop off relatives, children or friends, and is part of the city's strategy to make these areas more social," he said.
One commuter, who didn't find the new signage fun or socially acceptable, asked: "Are they encouraging teenagers to come here for late night parking?"
Another, younger, commuter said: "It's funny. But not everyone will interpret it as a drop-and-go area."
A total of 26 stations are being upgraded with park-and-ride facilities for the event, with Kuils River the first to be launched.
Soccer fans travelling into the city from the northern suburbs and the Boland will be able to park their cars at the station, then take a free train ride into the city centre during the tournament.
Elizabeth Thompson, the city's mayoral committee member for transport, roads and major projects, said people from Kuils River and surrounds had been using the station's limited parking area as a park-and-ride facility for years, but now had a proper facility that could be used long after the World Cup.
She said that within the next five years, 75 percent of commuters would live no more than 500m from a public transport node.
"That is the city's plan, and we are working hard to achieve it," said Thompson.
The project was also aimed at encouraging motorists to use public transport into the CBD.
"The Kuils River park-and-ride will reduce dependency on private vehicles, ensuring safe journeys and reducing congestion and pollution," she said.
Thompson said South Africa was among countries with the highest numbers of road accidents in the world.
"We need to create an awareness that there is an alternative to private car usage... Travelling by car is not the most feasible option - there are practical alternatives."
The new park-and-ride facility has more than 300 parking bays, a soon-to-be-completed bicycle lock-up facility and an improved pedestrian walkway, which is still being constructed.
"All the paving and extra work will be complete by the end of this month," said Thompson.
Metrorail's regional manager, Stephen Ngobeni, said he was "excited" about seeing all the soccer fans pass through the station during the World Cup.
"It's going to be amazing," he said. "I was here a year ago, and things have improved."
More than half of public transport users in the Western Cape relied on trains to get to and from work and school, according to Ngobeni.
"Any commuter using this world-class facility will feel safe and confident.
"We want to encourage soccer enthusiasts to return to Cape Town with their families and friends, and will therefore ensure that their experience is as pleasant, safe and convenient as possible."
Taxis and buses would not be excluded from the park-and-ride network, said Thompson.
Taxis would be used to transport local fans from park-and-rides to the public viewing areas in Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha, Bellville and Athlone.
In the city, fans will be able to walk to the stadium along the 1.9km Fan Walk, which stretches from Cape Town station down Waterkant Street, across Buitengracht and down the pedestrianised zone along Somerset Road to the stadium.
Two city sites have been identified as possible park-and-ride facilities - under the Foreshore freeways in the CBD, and in the District Six area.
In addition, about 35 000 permanent parking bays are available in the CBD, along with 6 000 public parking bays in the V&A Waterfront, all of which are available for use by spectators.
Seven of the eight matches will be held outside working hours, leaving the majority of the bays available.
The facilities will be managed by the city's 2010 transport management team.