CONSTRUCTION of Rea Vaya’s Phase 1B is steaming ahead, and the second trunk route running from Noordgesig in Soweto to Parktown, and through to Braamfontein and then the inner city looks set to be completed before the end of the year.
The executive director of transportation in the City, Lisa Seftel, says the target date of operations is April 2012. Once complete, the route will be 18 kilometres long with 10 new stations and would have cost roughly R1,2-billion.
The route will cater for all manner of Joburgers, from labourers to police officers; from petrol pump attendants to hospital patients and staff; from media workers and students from the two large universities it passes to school learners and the like, most of whom frequent this route.
There is a station just in front of Wits University on Empire Road, another one a few metres down the road, two adjacent to the SABC building in Auckland Park, another one a kilometre away, just opposite the University of Johannesburg and Helen Joseph hospital. Learners from Hoërskool Vorentoe and users of the Rahima Moosa Hospital have stations just in front of their premises too.
Phase 1B starts in Noordgesig and travels through Pennyville and New Canada, Highgate, Stanley, Kingsway, Empire Road, Parktown, Metro Centre, Rissik Street and joins Phase 1A. The route covers the suburbs of Soweto, Richmond, Melville, Westbury, Riverlea, Bosmont, Brixton, Coronationville, New Canada, Pennyville, Crosby, Newclare and Noordgesig.
About 74 mature trees on Empire Road, between the Jan Smuts and Victoria avenues intersections, have been removed to widen the route. But each of these trees will be replaced, in line with an environmental policy that states the equivalent number of trees must be replaced in the suburb where they were cut.
The stretch of road where trees have been cut down is approximately 0,98 kilometres long and includes intersections with Joubert and Sam Hancock streets.
These routes will be linked to the Metro Centre Rea Vaya loop, which travels to the inner city via Braamfontein. Other scheduled work here includes the resurfacing of mixed traffic lanes, street lighting, construction of a station platform and repaving walking areas.
Construction on this section of the road is under way, lane restrictions have been imposed and traffic delays can be expected. Motorists are urged to drive courteously, obey road signs and observe speed restrictions.
Rea Vaya currently ferries just over 30 000 commuters a day, an average of a million commuters a month Seftel hopes Phase 1B will add another 45 000 passengers per weekday to the existing 600 000 passengers a month.
Lunga Ndlozi of Hoërskool Vorentoe from Protea North thinks once Phase 1B is up and running, it will offer an affordable and convenient alternative to her current mode of transport. And because Rea Vaya uses designated median lanes, it will curb traffic congestion, she adds.
“Rea Vaya will make my travel time shorter, so this means that I will get home earlier than usual and even wake up later than I used to because the travel time is shorter,” she says of the system.
Phase 1B will add about 130 buses to the existing fleet of 143. Seftel says the tender for new buses to operate on this route will go out sometime this year.
Kamogelo Mogopodi from Diepkloof Phase 3 says: “Rea Vaya will cut the travelling time as I hear buses will be available every 20 minutes. That’s a great thing because we will have more time to focus on school work.”
She says for a learner it sounds like a viable option because it is closer to her school and “e’kasi” where she lives.
A University of Joburg student, who only identifies himself as Ronny, lives on a residence on campus. He says because he is peripatetic he can’t wait to use the bus once it’s fully operational.
“I think the BRT system will increase travel options. It’s cost effective and much safer, and if anything happens passengers can hold the government accountable.
“It is a better system to use than any other bus system; it is definitely something to try out,” he says.
Ntokokzo Dlamini from Emdeni says Rea Vaya will help him get home early and manage his time better, so he can do “other things”. “The Rea Vaya bus is the best bus; it works best and is cheaper.”
Source: Rea Vaya website