Cape Town is leading the way in exploring ways to better integrate public transport services, as the national government moves to devolve more responsibility to cities for the planning and managing of public transport.
The City recently hosted a rail summit attended by Mayor Patricia de Lille, MEC for Transport and Public Works, Robin Carlisle, Deputy Director General for the National Department of Transport, Mathabatha Mokonyama, and the Chief Executive Officer of Prasa, Lucky Montana, among others.
Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Roads and Stormwater, Brett Herron said the City was taking ‘significant steps towards implementing a sustainable, multi-modal, integrated public transport service which will be made up of passenger rail, bus rapid transit (MyCiTi), scheduled bus services, minibus-taxis and non-motorised transport. We are working as hard as we can, and as prudently as possible, to put the current fragmented, and often inconvenient, public transport system behind us and to usher in a fully functional public transport service that will support economic and social inclusion and provide convenient and enhanced affordable mobility.’
The aim was to establish the City as the single public transport authority. Work is continuing on the devolution of the bus subsidies and the assignment of the minibus-taxi licensing to the City. But, Councillor Herron said it would be impossible for the City to implement a fully integrated public transport service without being in a position to plan for passenger rail services and then ensure its implementation. Passenger rail is the dominant mode of public transport in Cape Town, which has one of the most extensive urban networks in the country.
Over 600 000 passengers a day depend on Metrorail for their daily commute. ‘Passenger rail is critical to our economic viability and to achieving social inclusion. It is therefore critical to the future of this city. If it is allowed to deteriorate further, and collapse, the consequences for every individual resident, and all of us collectively as a city, will be dire. We live in one of the few liveable cities of the world and if passenger rail fails, everything that we love about this city will be lost.
Against this backdrop the City, and its leadership, does not have the luxury of maintaining a convenient arms-length approach to the increasingly problematic and, at times, dysfunctional Metrorail service.’ A joint task team from the City and the provincial and national departments will form a task team to oversee a due diligence investigation, expected to be concluded by November 2012. This will inform the way forward.
From car-friendly to people first
Cape Town is setting a national example in the quest to turn our cities from car-centred places to ones where public transport and the interests of all residents take preference. This is according to the National Department of Transport’s director of public transport network development, Ibrahim Seedat.
‘MyCiTi in Cape Town and Rea Vaya in Johannesburg are leading the way, but from 2015 we expect a new wave of BRT services to be launched, in eThekwini, Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay and Rustenberg, and after that more cities will follow suit.’ He says that innovative technology is playing a crucial role.
‘The EMV, or contactless payment card, is the latest innovation being introduced. These cards will play an important role in the public transport of the future, as they will save passengers time and money by allowing quick access to vehicles, and stations and free, quick transfers between different routes and even modes of transport.’
Cape Town has pioneered this pre-paid travel system by introducing the myconnect card on MyCiTi buses. In doing so, the city is the first in South Africa to meet the automated fare-collection regulations prescribed by the national Department of Transport in June last year.
The EMV technology used in such cards is breaking new ground, as it allows for the integration of public transport and banking services. In coming years, all credit and debit cards will be upgraded to comply with this technology, which means that we could all use our credit and debit cards to pay for public transport across the country.
Between November 2011 and the end of February 2012, Since November, more than 27 000 myconnect cards have been sold. The card will also be used to pay for parking in many parts of Cape Town in the near future. They are available from MyCiTi stations and selected retailers.
The cards can also be used to make purchases of up to R200 at a time at all retailers that accept debit cards.
MyCiTi tip of the month