GAUTRAIN’s first-of-its-kind contracting model with taxi associations has debunked the myth that the taxi industry cannot offer a scheduled, safe, and reliable service.
The Gautrain Midibus Feeder and Distribution Service started operating from Gautrain Marlboro station in 2011, following a partnership with taxi associations from Alexandra township in Johannesburg.
Twelve years later, additional minibus routes are operating from Gautrain Centurion and Hatfield stations in partnership with the minibus taxi operators. At an affordable R12 per trip, the Gautrain-branded midibuses now transport about 72 000 commuters a month.
This partnership has created employment for 69 people, 21 are women and 30 are youth.
According to Gautrain Management Agency’s CEO Designate, Tshepo Kgobe, the contracting model addresses a number of issues, including enhancing the integration of the Gautrain system with other public transport services within the province, improving accessibility to Gautrain stations, and reducing traffic congestion to the stations.
“In addition, the vast majority of minibus commuters also use the Gautrain which boosts train ridership,” Kgobe said.
The partnership offers equal benefits for taxi operators - they do not only gain revenue but also acquire valuable skills and knowledge that equips them to consistently deliver an efficient public transport service and excellent customer service.
Kgobe said the midibus service attracts commuters who would not ordinarily use minibus taxis. Taxi operators have maintained service delivery and quality, with no strikes, disruptions or lawlessness.
A representative of the Alexandra Taxi Association, Mxolisi Ximba, expressed appreciation to the Gautrain management team for the skills they have imparted through the midibus service initiative.
“ We can apply the lessons and skills we have gained, such as negotiation skills, to change the taxi industry. I urge other stakeholders in the taxi industry to come on board this initiative,” Ximba said.
He added that when cabinet made a decision to go ahead with the Gautrain project in 2005, they expressed that it should strive to be more inclusive by integrating with other modes of transport and specifically mentioned midibus taxis.
“We are on the right track with the midibus service, it is a win-win solution for the Gautrain, taxi operators and commuters. The minibus taxi industry is a critical public transport provider in South Africa and there is no reason why this proven contracting model cannot be replicated across the country,” said Kgobe.
Future service enhancements include introducing integrated ticketing.
“We want the Midibus Feeder and Distribution Service to use the same tap-and-go, cashless ticketing system we use for our trains and buses,” Kgobe concluded.