Cape Town - 140402 - Striking MyCiTi bus drivers disrupted several routes in Cape Town on Wednesday morning, a city official said. Several drivers from the Transpeninsula Investments (TPI) vehicle operating company started striking at 05:00, transport mayoral committee member Brett Herron said. Picture: David Ritchie

Cape Town - MyCiti’s service to Century City and Atlantis, meant to change the face of public transport for long-suffering commuters, has been denounced by some as “pathetic”.

It has become a pattern that buses don’t arrive at night or were very late, they say.

The city admitted it had received a “substantial” number of complaints since the service was rolled out to Atlantis and Dunoon.

Besides late or cancelled buses, commuters have also complained that the machines on which they are charged often do not work, resulting in them being penalised and charged more for parts of journeys they did not take.

Tasleema Petersen, who uses MyCiTi to travel to and from Atlantis to work in Canal Walk, said she had been using the service for two months and described it as “pathetic”.

She said she had lodged numerous complaints with the call centre, but that staff were rude and never solved any of her complaints.

Petersen said there were meant to be two buses from Century City to Atlantis after 9pm, but said these buses hardly ever arrived.

At times, the driver would refuse to load passengers, saying he was going to the depot.

Most nights, the only bus was at 10pm, which meant she got to Atlantis at midnight.

In March, the city cancelled a R234-million contract with Lumen Technologies, which installed and maintained the IT contract which monitors operations and scheduling due to non-performance, and has been monitoring the service manually.

Mayoral committee member for transport Brett Herron said because of the cancelled contract, the city could not monitor timetable adherence electronically on the Dunoon, Table View, Atlantis and Civic Centre routes.

However, vehicle operating companies had supervisors to monitor and regulate buses.

He said the cancellation of the Lumen contract had made it more difficult for the city to monitor and verify schedule adherence as it is currently unable to receive and communicate real-time information about the buses.

Herron said the bids for a new company to manage the IT system was being evaluated and that the city hoped to have a new contractor by June.

Lumen Technologies director Sedicka Chilwan earlier disputed the cancellation of the contract and threatened to sue the city for R50m.

Chilwan said on Monday: “We are currently in mediation with the city and intend to continue pursuing our legal rights.”

Meanwhile, Petersen said passengers were becoming more and more frustrated with intermittent problems with bus schedules and late buses.

“It is frustrating because MyCiTi is meant to save you time and money, but it wastes our time and charges us for journeys we are not even taking because nothing works properly and drivers do not stick to the schedules.”

She said in the beginning the service worked perfectly, but soon there were regular problems. “It’s ridiculous because buses just don’t arrive or they are least 40 minutes late.”

Another passenger, who travels from Parklands to Canal Walk, said he had been using the service since 2011 and had the same problems.

The passenger, who asked not to be named, said: “The service is terrible and problematic, the drivers and staff at the stations don’t help and they are rude.”

Quinton Gobie who works in Canal Walk, said: “Buses are always delayed and not consistent with the schedule; especially at night there are problems.”

He said two buses were meant to arrive after 9pm, but mostly he and other passengers wait until a bus arrived at 10.40pm.

“When it was a new service we understood there might be problems, but it can’t carry on like this. It’s completely unacceptable,” Gobie said.

Herron said most of the complaints from the new routes came from the new users not being familiar with the MyCiTi service, the fare collection system and the timetables. He said the city was aware of intermittent issues with the validators (tap-in machines) on the buses, and was looking for a resolution.

He encouraged people to lodge their complaints so that city could investigate and take action, as the city had a performance management system to monitor operating companies.

He said as a result of the cancelled contract, the city’s transport information centre did not have access to real-time information from the control centre and was therefore not able to report on a position of a particular bus.

Commuters can contact the transport information centre on 0800 65 64 63 toll-free from landlines, or e-mail [email protected]

Cape Times

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