|Getting around town|
|06 September 2011|
A LOT has been done to change the face of public transport in the city, but "positive activism" is required for Joburg to be ranked among the best in the world, according to the member of the mayoral committee for transport, Rehana Moosajee.
She was speaking at the first of several Transport Week Growth and Development Strategy (GDS) seminars at the Bus Factory in Newtown on 3 September.
Before the seminar, Eric Itzkin, the deputy director of immovable heritage, took delegates on a fun walk around Newtown, pointing out places of interest to an appreciative audience consisting of people from the taxi industry, transport experts, civic organisations and City officials.
Back at the Bus Factory, Moosajee said the implementation of Rea Vaya was a huge step forward.
However, the council had inherited a rather skewed city, a result of apartheid policy, that was presenting some challenges to providing adequate public transport facilities, especially to previously disadvantaged areas, she said.
"One of the biggest questions that we are going to ask during Transport Week is what should be propelling our transport system going forward. There are real challenges that lie ahead."
To accomplish an excellent public transport system, several issues have to be tackled, including:
In a first step, the seminar broke into seven groups of six people each to discuss their possible solutions to improving public transport.
On scaling up provisions for mass public transport, Romeo More, an official from Larimar, a holding company of bus operating company Putco, said Rea Vaya was a good example of an efficient public transport system, but it had to be complemented by other forms of public transport, like taxis.
"Public transport should be integrated. There has been a lot of talking and planning [about integration of public transport] for some years now but no implementation."
A single ticketing system for all public transport should be introduced to do away with taxi and bus drivers handling cash, which made them prone to robberies, he added. "This single ticketing system will also be an advantage to commuters since they will avoid queuing up to buy multiple tickets for each mode of transport they intend to use."
All groups agreed that congestion was a major problem on city roads and that the existing forms of public transport needed to be improved. Several downsides were noted:
Several solutions were put forward to improve operations of the taxi industry. One group suggested that taxi owners form co-operatives to improve efficiency. Bernard Dreyer from the Parktown Association took this a little further, saying the taxi industry should focus on in-depth research on improving customer service, improving taxi ranks and establishing sound business models for the industry.
All agreed that there were too many cars on Joburg roads, leading to huge gridlock. One group noted that in turn, this led to the economy losing of millions of rands because workers arrived late for work.
On promoting non-motorised transport, More said the City should "increase facilities" that encouraged people to use bicycles. But it would take "drastic measures" like taxing private car-users large sums of money to get people out of their cars, he conceded.
Ronny Segwalo, from the taxi industry, reiterated More's view that bicycles could play a big part in reducing congestion.
"The government should come to the party and subsidise the costs of buying bicycles, especially for poorer people who rely heavily on public transport. Bicycle and pedestrian friendly streets should also be considered," he said.
On making our roads safe, everyone agreed that harsher penalties for law-breakers and pedestrian education were necessary, and that more street lights should be put up on all city roads.
Before 1994, most developments did not take into account users of public transport, and this has negatively affected people who do not have access to private cars. The Gautrain and Rea Vaya are hopefully a step towards providing easy access to places like Rosebank and Sandton.
One contributor gave Maponya Mall as a good example of a recent transit-oriented development, where people can either catch a taxi, a Rea Vaya bus, a train, walk or cycle to do business or shopping.
Wrapping up the day's proceedings, Moosajee said transport was vital to a successful city. It was inextricably intertwined with the other GDS2040 themes, which were: liveable cities; resource sustainability; health and poverty; governance; community safety; environment; economic growth; and smart cities.
Liveable cities, resource sustainability, health and poverty, and governance have been tackled so far. Transport Week runs until 9 September. To get involved with the GDS outreach, visit the Facebook page, or follow on Twitter.
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