Source: Gauteng Provincial Government
Title: JHB: Masondo: Speech by the executive mayor of Johannesburg at the Public Transport Summit, Nasrec
Speaker of Council: Clr Nkele Ntingane
Chief Whip of Council: Clr Nonceba Molwele
MMC for Transport: Clr Rehana Moosajee
Members of the Mayoral Committee
Leaders of all Political Parties
Representatives from SANCO, COSATU and SACP
Acting City Manager: Dr Rafik Bismila
Managers and Officials of Council
Representatives of the Taxi and Bus Industries
The South African Commuter Organisation
Gauteng Commuter Organisation
Metrobus User Forum
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is indeed a great honour to welcome such a large group of distinguished stakeholders to the City of Johannesburg's Public Transport Summit. At this stage in our City's development, public transport is at a turning point and together, we have the opportunity to ensure a lasting legacy that our children and future citizens will be proud of. Today, we are here to share information, consider and discuss issues, deepen our understanding about Rea Vaya and together look at ways in which we can successfully drive public transport forward, for the benefit of commuters, citizens and visitors.
Let us begin by looking at the current public transport picture. As you are all aware, and indeed have experienced, the legacy of apartheid spatial planning meant the poor were forced to live in areas far from their workplace, with very little historical investment made in public transport infrastructure. Today, most city dwellers - around two-thirds - do not have private motor cars and are completely reliant on public transport.
Our people have to deal with the quality of life issues created by this legacy on a daily basis - heavy congestion, long travel times, difficult transfers - particularly in the Inner City - and a substantial portion of income spent on transport. Furthermore, there is virtually no accessibility for people with disabilities or non-motorised transport.
Distinguished guests, did you know that the citizens of our City undertake a total of 3.5 million trips every day? Nearly half (47%) is by public transport, of which 773 000 (72%) trips are by minibus taxi, 230 300 (14%) are by train, and 148 050 (9%) are by bus.
From this current picture it is clear that we need a public transport system that is not only effective and reliable, but that meets the needs of all our citizens. We really do require a world-class public transport system for our world-class African City. And all of us must work together and encourage all our people to join our efforts in providing and using this public transport system we are building. If we want to ensure a sustainable City for the next generation, public transport must come first!
At this stage, I'd like to lay out the City of Johannesburg's public transport agenda. I know many of you are already very familiar with this, but I ask for your indulgence.
We are, as you are all aware, facing many challenges in respect of our public transport system. These include high levels of congestion due to excessive private car use; an aging road infrastructure and aging public transport vehicles like buses and taxis; ‘captive' public transport users; an unstable public transport sector where routes are not properly regulated; disrespectful behaviour of many road users; inadequate public transport infrastructure, which at times is worsened by vandalism and a lack of funds aggravated by the economic crisis, fare evasion and fluctuating oil prices.
Like many big Cities across the globe, we have to address critical issues such as congestion, air pollution, high external costs, the low attraction and image of public transport, and the lack of modal integration.
Ladies and gentlemen, we stand before a cross-road. Yes, we can continue to merely invest in our existing road infrastructure to cater for the growing number of cars on our roads, or we can follow in the footsteps of other successful cities in the world and take a more holistic view, providing alternatives, encouraging public transport, as well as non-motorised transport such as cycling and walking, and, critically, integrating our different modes of transport to form a cohesive sustainable whole.
As we strongly believe that our people have the right to live in a world-class city, underpinned by a world-class transport network, the City of Johannesburg has put six goals in place. These are:
1. To create a community aware of, and committed to, a core set of values so that all road and public transport users can travel in safety.
2. Improved access and reduced traveling times for our residents to their workplace, educational institutions, recreation facilities and markets, by implementing an innovative public transport system which is aligned with the City's Spatial Development Framework and is safe, affordable, convenient and comfortable.
3. To develop and maintain a quality and environmentally-friendly road, traffic-signaling and storm-water infrastructure network across the city
4. An environmentally-sustainable transport infrastructure and systems, which include the promotion of public transport and non-motorised transport choices.
5. A transformed transport industry which is customer focused and maximizes broad based black economic empowerment.
6. And finally, an efficient freight-transport and logistics infrastructure to position Johannesburg as a ‘gateway city' to national and international markets.
With the impetus of the 2010 World Cup and the country's development and infrastructural focus, we now have the opportunity to really get it right. Never before have there been so many transport initiatives focused on the City at one time!
The increased CAPEX spending we are seeing is mostly as a result of national funding in anticipation of next year's Soccer World Cup. Current transport initiatives include:
• The Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, known as GFIP, to upgrade our freeway network with the aim of introducing electronic tolling in 2010.
• The Gautrain that will link OR Tambo, Joburg and Tshwane through high-speed trains.
• Rea Vaya BRT, our high-quality high-volume commuter mover that will initially focus on helping to bring commuters from Soweto to the Joburg CBD and facilitate movement around the CBD.
• Upgrading of OR Tambo International Airport, and
• Upgrading of taxi ranks in the Inner city, including those for cross-border buses.
Our flagship public transport project is the BRT Rea Vaya, aimed at providing a new and efficient transport option for our city's residents and visitors. Our implementation will be a first not only for South Africa but also Southern Africa and as such, many eyes are on us as we work together to bring this project to our commuters. However, it must be stressed, it is not the only project to improve public transport and on its own, it cannot be the answer - it is part of a bigger picture to provide an integrated transport network for the City and the Province.
As the MMC indicated in her opening address, different parts of government play different roles in respect of public transport, all which impact on the citizens of our City.
However, one of the key roles of the City is to ensure the integration and co-ordination of these initiatives through what is called an Integrated Transport Plan. We are working on the revision of this as well as ensuring that key aspects of public transport are integrated.
One of the important areas of integration relate to the Gautrain. As you know these speed trains will go from Park Station through Sandton and Marlboro to Tshwane and also the OR Tambo International Airport. Stations are being built at key places along the route and we are making sure that at each station, there will be places for other public transport mechanisms, including BRT, other buses and mini-bus taxis, to be able to drop-off and collect passengers.
At Sandton station we are looking at a big integrated development with a new taxi rank on one of the floors above the station. We are also working with Gautrain to make sure that the over 100 Gautrain buses that will bring Gautrain passengers to stations are co-ordinated with BRT and Metrobus. This may mean changing some of the Metrobus routes to via Gautrain stations.
We are also planning to offer the same common shelter for all buses and taxis. In order to simplify matters for commuters, we are trying to ensure that they are able to use the same ticket for Gautrain, BRT and Metrobus - but this may take a bit of time to achieve.
We are also working closely with Metrorail or PRASA who have been improving their rail services. They are ensuring that coaches are refurbished for 2010 as well as upgrading stations. Recently they opened a revamped Doornfontein Station.
There is no doubt that Gautrain and BRT Rea Vaya will raise the standard of public transport. This will inevitably put pressure on other public transport operators to also improve their service, including mini bus taxis and Metrobus. While we are faced with serious budget constraints, we will be trying to modernize Metrobus operations. This may include improving the ticketing system, improving maintenance and control of the spare parts.
Another area of our work is with taxi ranks. While the provincial government register taxi operators and license their routes, we are responsible for taxi ranks and giving taxi operators ranking space.
Many of our ranks are not well maintained and others are overflowing. The various agencies of the City such as the MTC, Department of Economic Development, JDA and Transportation Department are looking at public private partnerships to create more space for taxi and bus operators especially from across our borders, to load and hold. This may entail decking over the railway line in the long term. Urgent attention is required at the Kazerne and Park City ranks which are eye sores and we are planning to do some basic improvements in this financial year.
We are very encouraged by the recent willingness of cross border bus operators to move from various illegal sites across the inner city to a rank that we have upgraded for them and are managing at Trump Street under the M2. When all the cross border operators have moved, we will engage with them as to what further improvements we should make to this rank.
The Cosmo City rank, which also has extensive facilities for hawkers, is almost complete. We are also finalizing canopies at Lenasia Rank and will be improving Midrand Rank in this financial year.
As the BRT will change many of the patterns of both pedestrians, minibus taxi users and private car users in the Inner City, we are carrying out an intensive study to see how we can stop the terrible congestion in this part of our city, as well as make it safer for pedestrians. It will also be important to have a plan for trucks that want to off load goods during the day, creating even greater traffic congestion.
The final key public transport project I want to highlight is our transport operational plan for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. As you know, we organized the Park and Ride services to Ellis Park, called e-Transie to Ellis Park, for the 2009 Confederation Cup. We managed to transport over 50% of the spectators to the games and despite certain criticisms and hiccups, we managed to safely transport the vast majority of spectators to the games on time as well as out of the stadium within an hour and half.
However, the challenge for the 2010 Soccer World Cup is much bigger. We will have two stadiums to transport spectators to, many thousands of visitors who will want to see the sights of the City of Joburg, as well as citizens and visitors alike who will want to view the matches and party at the various fan parks.
We are planning a special public transport service as well as improving on our Park and Ride service and communicating this clearly through an awareness strategy. The JRA will be enhancing the signage related to these services, putting up many more signs across the city as well making sure that all existing signs are in good working order. And of course, the JMPD will have a critical role to play in ensuring the safety of pedestrians. They will be adopting a zero tolerance approach to those who break the law.
Also, although not strictly what some conceive of as public transport but part of developing the City, we also have what is called a Non- Motorised Transport Framework. This talks to what we need to do for pedestrians and cyclists. Already we have built a walk way in Soweto, called the June 16th pathway, joining certain key June 16th sites. In the next financial year, we will be partnering with other spheres of government and private sector partners to look at pedestrian and cycle paths in Zandspruit and Orlando in Soweto.
Distinguished guests, turning now to the project that is perhaps the most visible and with the greatest potential to transform the face of public transport in the City, I would like to talk more about the BRT Rea Vaya. As the first Bus Rapid Transit system to be implemented in South Africa, Rea Vaya is truly a pioneering project for the City of Johannesburg.
With BRT you "think rail, do bus". It is a system that has been tried and tested successfully in many developing countries like Colombia and offers numerous benefits to commuters. It is efficient, reliable and frequent. The fares are affordable. It is safe and secure, and accessible for people with disabilities, the elderly and mothers with children. A BRT system like Rea Vaya leads to a decrease in traffic congestion, energy consumption and vehicle emissions, and offers an enhanced urban environment.
Rea Vaya also contributes to the City's socio-economic mandate. In terms of economic growth it will increase mobility and reduce both congestion and the cost of transport for business and workers. Furthermore, Rea Vaya has the potential to transform the public transport sector, especially the taxi industry.
Rea Vaya will help us to restructure an apartheid City in that it will enable transit-orientated development along key transport corridors and literally bring "Soweto closer to the CBD".
As the largest climate change project the City has ever undertaken, Rea Vaya with its low-sulphur engines and advanced pollution reduction equipment will certainly contribute to sustainable development.
Lastly, Rea Vaya will contribute to good governance as we will be providing a more efficient method of public transport.
The Rea Vaya journey has been a long one. In 2006, Council approved the full BRT network that will eventually cover more than 300km of trunk routes across the City.
Rea Vaya will be rolled out in phases, with Phase 1A running from Regina Mundi (Lakeview) to Ellis Park. Later this month, on 30 August, we are launching a starter service that will grow into a full Phase 1A service over the next six months. As part of this phase, we will also run an events service for 2010.
Phase 1B will cover the second Soweto route running past the University of Johannesburg and Wits to Sandton; with feeders extending to Lenasia and Sunninghill. The Oxford Road link may be phased in later than the Soweto routes.
Phase 1C will be a new route from Alex to Cresta and we are still busy with detailed planning for this phase.
The Rea Vaya starter service that will commence operating on 30 August includes a trunk route service from Soweto to Ellis Park, as well as two CBD circle route services.
During peak periods, that is from 5am to 8am and 4pm to 7pm, the buses will run every five minutes and in off-peak times, from 8am to 4pm, every 20 minutes.
For the starter service, paper tickets will be sold at the various stations and by agents around the stations and CBD bus stops. The bus fares range from R3, R5 and R8.
So what is the City's role in Rea Vaya? We are responsible for the construction and maintenance of the infrastructure. We will manage the contracts, call centre and passenger information. We will promote public transport and bring patronage, and we will ensure the safety of the system. We will also set the standards of service.
The Rea Vaya business model is like no other seen before in this country.
The City will collect fares and pay the bus operating company a rate per kilometer, so the bus drivers have no incentive to speed and increase the number of trips they undertake.
In line with our government's mandate, job creation is an important element of the Rea Vaya project, which has and will continue to create new jobs by virtue of the CAPEX spend. So far, Rea Vaya has created about 3300 new jobs. It is expected to create a total of more than 29 000 jobs.
Additionally, the BRT operations aim to be "employment-neutral", meaning that all jobs "lost" from the current public transport operators will be replaced with new jobs in the BRT.
Most informal jobs in the taxi industry will be replaced by formal jobs in the BRT operating companies, with properly regulated conditions of employment and improved working conditions such as shorter hours.
Ladies and gentlemen, you may ask what is the value proposition for the taxi industry?
The City of Johannesburg is committed to offer local operators that will be affected by the introduction of the BRT a stake in a new Bus Operating Company; a stake and jobs in one or more of the station management companies, as well as potential jobs, investment and ownership in a variety of companies linked to the BRT. By doing this we are ensuring that operators are not worse off than at present.
We are obliged to ring fence the bus operating contract for affected operators in terms of national transport legislation.
Government is committed that the taxi industry should be the ‘nucleus' and significant beneficiaries, which will enable them to be part of a formalized business and to get shares in a bus company with no equity other than proof that they are incumbent operators. We are also working with industry and other spheres of government to establish how the industry can further gain from the ‘BRT value chain', for example through bus manufacture and maintenance, or depot construction. The law does not allow us to ring fence these opportunities but we can look at preferences.
But this is a very big project and it does not mean that other residents and entrepreneurs will not also be able to get job opportunities and contracts from the BRT project. Already over 3 500 Joburg residents have been given jobs in the construction phase and this will continue through the normal procurement processes of the city. We use the city's regional databases and job pathway programme to recruit unemployed workers.
In respect of stakeholder relations - the Department of Transportation has a monthly forum with all public transport stakeholders to address matters of mutual interest. I would urge that all public transport stakeholders make sure that they attend this forum and strengthen it so that we can have a strong public transport partnership.
Ladies and gentlemen, we all know that by working together we can do more. Today we have the opportunity to thrash out exactly how we can do more to improve our public transport system together.