Source: The Department of Transport
Title: SA: Ndebele: Address by the Minister of Transport, on the first anniversary of the Rea Vaya service, Johannesburg
Programme director - MMC Rehana Moosajee
Gauteng Transport MEC - Mr Bheki Nkosi
Executive Mayor: City of Johannesburg - Mr Amos Masondo
Representatives of public transport operators
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
Transport and the 2010 FIFA World Cup
Two months ago, about 3.1 million spectators experienced a world-class transport system when they attended 64 matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. This was the third highest aggregate attendance behind the United States in 1994 and Germany in 2006. Before the world cup, we worked tirelessly to ensure that our transport infrastructure comprising of rail, aviation and road would be effective and efficient during the games and well after the tournament - providing a legacy for our future generations.
To date, we are told - 16 percent of more than 1.2 million people who visited the country during the world cup have already booked air tickets and hotel accommodation to return to our shores.
This is a true reflection that apart from sport, improved infrastructure and Ubuntu can bring the whole world into our country. Through our public transport services and other areas, we demonstrated beyond doubt that we are capable of hosting and accommodating the world successfully.
As we hosted the world cup, we had to consider a number of realities: The deep-seated historical legacy of apartheid and its attempt at geographical marginalisation, the stereotyping of the majority of South Africans by the world's media and decades of under-investment in public transport.
We can declare today that we shrugged off the anticipated challenges on transportation during the world cup. It is not us saying so, because we can, but we are supported in this assertion by the entirety of the world. If we can host the world cup, nothing is impossible; if we can move the world, nothing can stand in our way!
Beyond the world cup, our objective is to use this perfect start to build a sustainable future in South Africa and in the region. Our future begins today on the platform of the Gautrain Rapid Rail Link, on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Scheme, the King Shaka International Airport and indeed on the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System.
The Rea Vaya BRT
Since 30 August 2009, time has flown so quickly. In that time Rea Vaya has become a distinct and normal part of our lives.
It has not only won space in the Johannesburg streetscape and in the hearts of its residents, but it has so easily also become a part of South African public transport culture and vocabulary. This is testimony to the success of the concept of bus rapid transit and the manner in which Rea Vaya has revolutionised South African public transport.
Tonight, we celebrate the First Anniversary of Rea Vaya. This child may have experienced major birth-related pains, but it was clearly destined for a great future. Once a child is born, it is the not the pain of birth that is remembered but the joys of conquest and victory which become the highlights. It is these, our successes that we will concentrate on this evening.
It is therefore exciting to note the following highlights about Rea Vaya:
• Passenger numbers have increased from 11 800 per day to 34 000 per day
• 1 100 trips are operated daily
• 18 500km are travelled daily
• 280 000 litres of diesel are used monthly
• 1 000 people have been employed in the operations
• 307 000 passengers were transported during the FIFA World Cup and stadiums were cleared way ahead of FIFA benchmark times.
Ladies and gentlemen, the success of the Rea Vaya BRT is further evidenced by the following:
• To date Joburg City has spent R1.6 billion on BRT
• Cape Town has committed R1 billion
• Tshwane has committed R70 million
• Nelson Mandela Bay has committed R300 million
• By 2011/12 an additional amount of over R5 billion will be spent by the above 4 cities
• By 2012 around 400 000 passenger trips a day will be carried out in Johannesburg
• By 2012 around there will be 110 000 passenger trips a day in Cape Town
• 100 000 in Nelson Mandela Bay
• 100 000 in Tshwane.
The first year is a trying period for both parent and child. There is so much to learn, so much excitement, so many challenges. In the case of Rea Vaya, we must accept that this was the first such system not only in South Africa but the entire continent.
So for Rea Vaya, the first year was always going to be the toughest. As indicated by Mayor Masondo, Rea Vaya has experienced its growing pains. However, the fact that we can gather in this room tonight to reflect on a year of accomplishments and operations is indeed reason to celebrate! It is still a long and hard walk - but we will finally reach our destination. It is a journey yet to be undertaken in earnest in other provinces and cities. We have no doubt that the experiences of Rea Vaya will serve as an important lesson and legacy for other areas.
Indeed, the list of the Rea Vaya legacy is growing daily.
• On top of that legacy list must be the manner in which Rea Vaya has illustrated how much co-operative governance can lead to the successful implementation of projects - autonomous spheres can work together in order to benefit our commuters and country
• Rea Vaya has shown us an important development model for our transport services and infrastructure. It has been wide-ranging enough in its implications for spatial development and planning, environmental imperatives, economic empowerment imperatives and social inclusion
• Rea Vaya has become a model for the implementation of our vision for Integrated Rapid Public Transport networks - where different modes integrate in the interest of the commuter by increasing convenience, safety and affordability
• Phase 1A has demonstrated the need for tenacity and single-mindedness by both government and the community. However, importantly the country has benefited from the visionary and clear leadership of the taxi industry, which has become a true partner for the shaping of transport that is appropriate for our growing economy. We must build upon this major legacy
• As indicated above, the other legacy is the broad-based empowerment model of Rea Vaya. Rea Vaya has directly empowered the taxi industry, from both owners and operators.
BRT and the public transport strategy
Cabinet approved the Public Transport Strategy in March 2007. This strategy reviewed the public transport implementation challenges of the past decade since the 1996 White Paper on National Transport Policy was released. The strategy also responded to the political imperative for a radical improvement in public transport services in the run up to 2010 and beyond.
In order to meet these challenges, Integrated Rapid Public Transport Networks were recommended as the key action to change the face of public transport in South Africa. Integrated networks in the larger cities comprise Rail Priority corridors as identified in the National Rail Plan as well as Bus Rapid Transit corridors together with feeder services. These corridors are the high-volume, mass-mover core of the system - which is planned and managed by municipalities in consultation with all stakeholders. The actual operation of these networks is to be performed by incumbent bus, minibus and train operators.
Rea Vaya strengthens our vision tremendously.
It has created local jobs, reduced travel times for the poor and working class.
It has even reduced the cost of transportation which forms a huge part of expenditure for the majority in our country. We have achieved these notable economic objectives not at the cost to the environment but by reducing carbon emissions and footprint and encouraged urban development in areas which may have been victims of urban decay.
The commuter has remained a critical part of the process. The colours, the artwork on the stations, constant attempts to involve the commuter has resulted in high standards and quality of the service.
However, all this would not have been possible without the staff of Rea Vaya. Special mention must be made of the bus drivers and station staff of Rea Vaya. Under the most trying circumstances they have shown a singular and unwavering commitment to Rea Vaya. We extend our sincere appreciation and a heartfelt thank you to all who made this project a reality and a success that it has been.
This represents a start and we heed the wise words of Madiba when he says:
"After climbing a great hill, one finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come.
But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk has not yet ended."
As we pause to celebrate one year of innovation and commitment, of tenacity and determination, of joy and pain - no doubt the path that lies ahead will hold many challenges. We must remain steadfast in our commitment to build a public transport system that is truly revolutionary. Our transport system must provide dignity, access and safety to all our people. As we look back on a year gone by - let us move forward together!
In conclusion, we urge all citizens to guard jealously against the destruction of our transport services and infrastructure. We cannot vandalise our own property and hope to move forward as a country.
Our collective responsibility is to protect life and limb from harm. Individually we must decide whether we want to move from being a developing country to being a developed country or not. We have made that choice already; we must go further and defend the infrastructure which is helping us as we develop from a developing country to being a developed country.
Let us march together towards this certain future!
Long live Rea Vaya! Long live!
I thank you!