‘No oversight on city’s integrated transport’

2014-11-06 00:00

THE city’s internal risk team have warned that there is a “lack of oversight” in the roll-out of the multibillion-rand bus rapid transport (BRT) system.

It was found that, unless the city acted soon, the consequences of disruption to services and even “violence with public transport stakeholders” was “almost certain” to occur, with the impact being “critical” on, among other issues, the city’s reputation.

But transport analysts who agreed the city would ultimately bear the operational costs of running Go!Durban, and would need to source additional revenue streams besides fares to do so, said such risk reports were “necessary” in order to “mitigate against future issues”.

The findings, found in a strategic risk assessment report yet to be discussed by the city’s executive council, said there was a “lack of oversight” on the “sustainability” of the “integrated public transport service”.

In its “root causes”, the report listed several reasons, such as that the system was a not an “economic driver”, that the transport sector was complex, and oversight on the progress was lacking, among other issues.

“The consequences [could be] reputational damage to the city, loss of revenue and productivity to business, possible decline in reliability of the public transport service … [and] violence within public sector stakeholders.”

In September, violence broke out in Pinetown as taxi drivers protested against Go!Durban, which would ultimately eliminate the taxi industry and integrate it into the BRT.

While National Treasury, through a transport grant, has committed to funding the infrastructural roll-out, local government is expected to fund the operational costs such as petrol and salaries.

Rehana Moosajee, who helped implement the country’s first BRT system — Rea Vaya in Johannesburg — called the transport sector “complex”.

“It is useful that people (such as the risk committee) are thinking about these potential issues so they can be fixed. Transforming public transport won’t be plain sailing,” said Moosajee.

She said funding the operational costs could be generated from a “multitude of mechanisms”, and not just rates.

“There is carbon and green taxes to parking fees. Each city must look at their situation. How to fund the BRTs is an ongoing discussion,” she said.

Transport expert Paul Browning said municipalities such as Durban “need to meet the costs” to run the services.

“Income will come from fares, but they will fall short. Income will invariably come from the municipalities, of which the bulk of their income comes from rates and services,” he said.

Go!Durban’s infrastructural roll-out is expected to cost nearly R9 billion, and it will be rolled out in a phased approach, with the first line becoming active in 2016, and the last near 2030.

Major construction is currently taking place in Pinetown along Josiah Gumede Road, as it is being rebuilt to allow for dedicated BRT lanes and transfer stations for articulated buses that will use these routes.

Some 13 municipalities — including Msunduzi, George, Polokwane and the large metropolitan ones — have successfully applied for funding to roll out BRT infrastructure.

• jonathan.erasmus@

witness.co.za

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