Cape Town - Cape Town’s lower income commuters spend as much as 60 percent of their monthly household income on transport costs, says the City of Cape Town. With 95 percent of public transport users falling into this income category, it’s no surprise that affordability and access to some form of transport were highlighted as key concerns in the findings of the Transport Development Index (TDI), released yesterday by the city’s Transport for Cape Town.
The statistics made for “uncomfortable reading”, said Brett Herron, Cape Town mayoral committee member for transport, at a briefing on Wednesday.
“The case for addressing the cost of transport to the lower-income groups is clearly overwhelming and this is why TCT is committed to halving this cost, as well as the costs to other user groups, within the next 15 years.”
The TDI – the first to be developed in Africa – divided the city into 18 transport analysis zones and measured the access priorities or concerns of four user groups: public transport, private car, non-motorised transport and freight.
The findings revealed that contrary to the assumption that 80 percent of the public transport group fell into the lower income category, as many as 95 percent of these commuters are from less affluent areas, with the majority living in Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha.
These commuters are particularly hard hit by the direct cost of access to transport, as they tend to live further away from economic hubs, and often have to use more than one mode of transport.
According to the findings, the low income group spends an average of R45 of every R100 of their monthly household income on transport. Most of these commuters travel between 45km and 70km each day to get to work.
“Although the data (from the TDI) is surprising, we have already put plans in place to reduce costs and to address the flexibility,” said Herron.
He said the city would continue to push for an integrated transport network that would eventually allow for seamless travel between all modes of land-based transport.
Herron said the rollout of 10 additional MyCiTi routes over the next 10 years would also improve access to transport across the city.
But Herron said the city was reconsidering the sequence of these routes, as research had indicated that some of its initial implementation plans, including the elimination of minibus taxis on MyCiTi routes, were not financially sustainable.
“There will be a greater focus on trunk routes and we will only roll out feeder routes where there’s a call for them.”
Melissa Whitehead, commissioner of Transport for Cape Town, said: “If there’s no demand, why do we need to send a bus?”
Aside from the direct cost, commuters listed flexibility, safety, crime and congestion as among their main priorities when it came to access to transport.
“We really have our work cut out for us if we want to address all these priorities,” said Herron.
The TDI provides the city with a benchmark for its performance in dealing with commuters’ concerns.
Road freight for rail Road freight for rail network
The City is drafting a strategy for freight transport that will alleviate some of the massive costs this sector incurs annually on the city’s roads.
Herron, said this would include moving as much freight as possible from the road to the city’s rail network.
According to the Transport Development Index, the direct transport cost for the freight user group identified by the study was R1.7 billion a year. This included the cost of fuel, salaries and toll fees.
The index divided the freight users into four categories: local deliveries, medium freight, heavy freight and long-distance freight.
Herron said congestion added 10 percent to this group’s direct transport costs, or as much as R121 million annually.
The impact on residents in terms of accidents was R930m a year, while the wear and tear from freight transporters cost the city about R713m a year in capital expenditure and maintenance.