Station retrofits to improve Rea Vaya experience

Tactile tiles being fitted at Orlando Stadium stationTactile tiles being fitted at Orlando Stadium station to make movement easier for people with disabilities.

Improvements include additional glass panels to protect against severe weather, and tactile tiles for people with disabilities.

Thokoza Park stationAt Thokoza Park station, the glass panelling will be extended to provide better protection against the weather.The Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) has begun retrofitting work on four Rea Vaya stations in order to improve commuters' experience of the City's bus rapid transit (BRT) system.

The improvements are being made to Westgate station in Joburg's CBD, and the Orlando Stadium, Klipspruit Valley and Thokoza Park stations in Soweto, at a cost of between R2-million and R3-million.

JDA development manager Zwakele Magagula described the retrofitting of the four stations as a pilot that would serve as a benchmark for future projects.

"The project will guide us on how the infrastructure design can be positively influenced in the future," Magagula said, adding: "It is meant to enhance the user's experience."

Work on the stations includes the installation of glass panels on aluminium frames to match existing finishes, and the fitting of tactile tiles and motion sensors.

"The glass panels are being fitted around the glass façade and roof section opening. The closure of the façade section is meant to minimise the effects of rain that at times permeates the interior, especially when there are high winds," Magagula explained.

Although the original design emphasised natural ventilation as a way of cutting down on energy costs, Magagula said the weather was causing discomfort for commuters.

In addition, tactile tiles are being fitted around the access ramp, ticket booth, gates and doors that lead into the buses in order to make movement easier for people with disabilities.

The new motion sensors, meanwhile, will automatically switch lights off during the day and when the facilities are not occupied so as to reduce energy demand.

"These specification were not in place around the time the stations were built and were only confirmed by the national Department of Transport recently," Magagula said.

The retrofitting is set to be completed in 2015.