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 -

Despite a six-month delay and construction concerns, the city’s MyCiTi N2 Express service got off to a smooth start this week as commuters made their maiden voyages between Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain and the city centre.

Comments on the MyCiTi Facebook page were generally positive, with one user saying: “Very impressed with the Mitchells Plain service. Used it today - July 5 - and everything went smoothly.”

Benedicta van Minnen, acting mayoral committee member for transport, said 134 passengers travelled from Mitchells Plain to the Civic Centre on Monday morning during peak hour, while 59 used the service from Khayelitsha during the same period. About 700 free myconnect cards had been issued since June 21.

“Thus far the interest in this top-up service has met our expectations and we’re looking forward to seeing an increase in the passenger numbers as the residents become familiar with the myconnect card, as opposed to those public transport services that operate with cash payments.”

She added: “The rollout has been without major problems. We only experienced a slight delay in Khayelitsha (Monday) morning where the first bus departed 10 minutes late… to a minor mechanical problem. The bus was replaced and from then on all the other departures… were on time.”

Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport, has emphasised this was “only the beginning” of an extensive process to transform public transport on the Cape Flats.

“It should be noted from the outset the city will be rolling out the MyCiTi service across the city while infrastructure projects are ongoing.”

Training of about 100 taxi drivers, who will be swopping their minibus vans for the 12m, low-floor MyCiTi buses, is expected to start next week. The city is funding this R3 million training scheme.

Siwe Coka, who facilitated discussions between the city and taxi associations, said most residents welcomed the service. She said people in nearby areas such as Gugulethu and Mfuleni were asking for a similar service.

But civic group Sobahlangula said the service would do little to help the thousands of unemployed residents who would not be able to afford the bus fare. The group’s secretary general, Mandisi Mrwebi, said: “If you have a transport system that does not talk (to the needs) of the community, then who are you really benefiting?”

Mrwebi said the group had submitted a list of concerns to the City of Cape Town about the cost and exclusivity of its MyCiTi service.

If the city failed to address these issues, the group would call on its supporters to boycott the service.

Cosatu has also filed an application at the Equality Court challenging the “blatant discrimination” of the service that put the needs of some communities ahead of those in poorer areas.

- Cape Argus