Transport month – moving South Africa forward, or is it?

 In Blog

Transport Month every year focuses the attention of the public on different Transport initiatives to enhance road safety and contribute towards economic growth and development.

This year’s theme is: “Together we move South Africa forward”. Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters says this year’s Transport month will focus on road infrastructure in rural areas.

Peters officially opened the road between Matooster and Ruighoek which links Pilansberg and Rustenburg. She says this road is an example of the type of infrastructure development needed to improve living conditions in rural areas.

“One of the big challenges facing our people in rural areas is access to good quality roads, in particular for them to reach services of government, health and you know that without infrastructure, the cost of transport is too high.”

Watch the video below that demonstrates how a 15-minute drive in a car took two hours by taxi. Video courtesy of SABC Digital News.

One of the areas that receive direct attention from the Government and the Department of Transport is the need for an effective public transport system. This will enable all South Africans to enjoy greater access to economic and employment opportunities as well as social recreation.

For a long time, taxi commuters have been frustrated by substandard service at taxi ranks, such as the poor queuing system which can add hours onto one’s journey and the lack of shelter at some ranks.

Reacting to concerns, the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) says they are also working hard to improve this industry.

Meanwhile, Gauteng Transport MEC Ismail Vadi says government is launching an E-ticket system on October 17. Vadi says the E-ticket is an electronic ticket which will assist commuters to save time when travelling.

“With the new system the commuter will not use money or need to change money in the taxi’s, which will also save time and give a better service.”

The Department of Transport’s vision is of a public transport system that provides certain minimum levels of service thereby enabling South Africans to enjoy greater mobility.

The National Household Travel Survey [released in 2005] revealed that nearly two-thirds of households in South Africa do not have access to public transport.

The following overview will provide a better understanding of the present scenario for public transport:

What’s the plan of action?

Government has committed to providing safe, accessible public transport. Here are some of the strategies that will be implemented in years to come:

  • New budget allocations from government will focus on the investment towards building economic infrastructure which are also key to sustainable growth and development
  • Key government strategies include pushing ahead with a taxi recapitalisation programme, consolidating passenger rail services, and reviewing bus services
  • The Transport Lekgotla noted the importance of a public transport system that integrates all modes including buses, taxis, metered taxis and rail as well as the transformation of the current commuter based transport system to a safe, reliable and efficient public transport system that meets the requirements of the user.
  • A “review and redesign” of existing services provided by the bus industry would take place
  • Bus services will be extended to some of the new areas of our country for improved service delivery and integration with better coordination of routes, the integration of fare and ticketing systems, and so on
  • Multi-faceted initiatives are being implemented to influence road users’ behaviour to rethink their traveling choices, with the Transport Month campaign encouraging people to walk, cycle, use public transport or carry several people per vehicle
  • Government already started improving transport infrastructure by building roads in disadvantaged communities and public transport terminals
  • The Transport Lekgotla resolved to accelerate the implementation of the turnaround plan for passenger railway services over a two-year period. It will focus on customer service with emphasis on reducing train delays, cancellations, punctuality and comfort.
  • Safety and security for railway passengers will be enhanced through the rollout of the police service and the rail service as well as rationalizing security services rendered by private security companies
  • Joint operations between taxis and buses have already started on some long-distance routes within the system, and this is one way to develop cheaper and more innovative ways to serve isolated communities through the appropriate mode of transport instead of buses. This is consistent with the vision of subsidising journeys not modes.
  • Government at all levels, working through transport authorities, will set comprehensive standards for the operation of various public transport modes. This will include the type and size of vehicles on these routes, roadworthy requirements and standards, fare determination, frequency of services, and so on. Regular inspection will ensure that service and safety standards are adhered to at all times
  • The Department of Transport is committed to providing bicycles to school children and poor households in the rural and peri-urban areas of our country
  • Travel demand management measures are implemented to manage private car use in major metropolitan centres to identify and implement dedicated bus and taxi lanes to allow the speedy transit of public transport vehicles such as buses and taxis
  • Intelligent Transport System (ITS) — a five-year pilot project is being implemented on the Ben Schoeman highway – to improve road safety and reduce traffic congestion
  • The Department is also advocating an increase in the number of commuters using public transport and “ride sharing” – a concept it’s trying to encourage through the use of park and ride facilities at either end of the journey
  • The Road Traffic Management Corporation is engaging with the South African Bureau for Standards (SABS) with the view to improving safety of buses. This will ensure that operators involved in subsidized contracts renew their bus fleet and that their buses are subjected to regular maintenance and testing by authorized testing stations.

The Department of Transport’s vision is of a public transport system that provides certain minimum levels of service thereby enabling South Africans to enjoy greater mobility.

The National Household Travel Survey [released in 2005] revealed that nearly two-thirds of households in South Africa do not have access to public transport.

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