PEOPLE should not live far from their workplace, and work opportunities should be brought to where people live – so says Lisa Seftel, the executive director of transport in the City.

She was speaking at the Wanderers Club in Illovo on 9 September during the GDS Transport Indaba to find solutions to the traffic congestion on Joburg’s roads. Investments should be made across the city, including in townships, which would create employment close to where people lived so they did not have to commute to work.

Walking and using bicycles were also proposed as solutions to easing congestion and promoting healthier lifestyles. “Walking and cycling does little harm to the environment,” said Seftel.

“We need to create the demand for bicycles so that everything else will come on speed. If the government subsidises bicycles for schoolchildren and poor people, it will improve accessibility and it will allow people to move [around].”

In South Africa, there was no company manufacturing from steel but there were two assembly plants, she said; “We need a lot of bicycles to make manufacturing viable.”

Parts of the bicycle value chain should not be underestimated, especially in rural areas, as there were possibilities for job creation, such as construction of bike trails, cycling events and bike rentals.

One of the solutions to congestion and transport challenges identified during the week was video conferencing, which would allow people to work from home. “The City needs to set an example. All the solutions can be done through partnerships,” Seftel added.

Public transport

Public transport was also in the spotlight. Despite the many challenges in the industry, the City wanted to see a well-planned and integrated transport system by 2040. “There should be a role for each mode, including rail, Rea Vaya, smaller buses and minibus taxis, and consideration should be given to new modes such as monorail, which can take up less ground space.”

Public transport should be affordable, convenient, safe, reliable and operate for long hours, she added, thus making it attractive to all income groups. It should cater “for commuter, long-distance and cross-border operations, and include high-quality, clean and well-maintained public transport infrastructure such as ranks, terminuses, stations, stops and shelters”.

Operators in the public sector needed to be unified: “All operators need to work together to get the benefits, and be prepared to accept change.”

Streets must be environmentally friendly, because they were not for cars only but for all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and trolley pushers. “Public transport operators must be trained as well,” she added.

By 2040, the City wanted to have safe and friendly streets that were environmentally friendly and responded to climate change. “Another increasing issue about development is making provision for climate change, such as rain harvesting. The City has to take responsibility for storm water that comes from big developments.”

Alternative fuel

In terms of fuel, the City wanted to be environmentally friendly by using energy that did not harm the environment, Seftel explained. Since South Africa had been a world leader in alternative fuel with Sasol, there was a huge potential to generate renewable, local energy for fuel and help to create jobs.

Producing alternative local energy was “especially doable with partnerships between the public sector, vehicle manufacturers and alternative fuel producers to overcome issues of regulation, find funding and to move from pilots to scale”.

The GDS2040 Transport Week ran from 4 to 9 September. This week it is the turn of community safety. Weeks still to come are: environment, economic growth and smart cities.

For more information on the City’s GDS2040 public participation process, visit the Facebook page, follow on Twitter, or visit the GDS2040 website.