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Tyler Spears
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MyCiti Alternatives - Buy a Car, Take Golden Arrow, Ride Metrorail

17 January 2014, 07:37

Another MyCiti route opens up (Hout Bay extension) and I'm keen to get on the bus and see how it goes. Either this is outright brainwashing or great branding from MyCiti; nothing else can explain my loyalty. Although, it was tested a lot about a month ago.

The first week of December 2013 was abuzz with activity: the beginning of the end of the year, the passing away of Nelson Mandela, and of course, the first week of MyCiti Bus' new routes. The Civic Centre to Century City route is the one that's very concerning to me.

On Sunday, 1 December, I took the bus from Town to the Canal Walk. It was a quiet day given that it was the weekend. I was expecting everything to go smoothly for my ride, but it was extremely bad. Yes, the new route had just started operating the day before, but that was no excuse for the inadequate service. After getting to the station at about 11AM, I got a bus after 15 minutes, which was on time, but I had to get off because the driver said it was not going to Century. That was kind of odd because that was the Table View bus. I was not the only one who got out. We checked again and well, clearly we where right and the driver wasn't. First mistake: a driver not knowing what routes go where, especially since his own bus was the one scheduled to take us to our destination: Racecourse station, en route Table View. The other passengers and I waited for another 25 minutes for another bus, which we boarded and arrived at Racecourse twenty minutes later. From there, a feeder shuttle would take us to Omurumba station, from which we would again take a final bus to Century City. The problem arose when we had to wait 50 minutes at the stop for a bus that was suppose to be there 16 minutes after we had arrived. We kept phoning for assistance and three times we where told that the bus was coming in 5 minutes. No bus came in 5 minutes, fifty minutes was more like it. I had not the energy to get angry that Sunday afternoon, but other passengers where. After arriving at Omurumba just before 1PM, we had to wait again. A couple of buses left and when we eventually got one, we had to be escorted out of the shuttle into another one because of malfunctioning doors. From the time I got in Civic Centre, it took just over two hours to get to Century City, which was outright unacceptable.

During the week, I thought things would improve, but they didn't. Whilst other routes go efficiently, this one doesn't. At current schedules, it should take on average 1 hour 10 minutes to complete the journey, which I'm afraid is just silly. This of course, got me asking the question: is it really worth it to use the MyCiti bus service for this particular journey? There's no scarcity of cars for sale I could buy and drive myself; there are alternative modes of public transport that are way more efficient than MyCiti's. A ride on a Golden Arrow bus at peak traffic can take between 35 and 45 minutes for the same journey and cost R8.80 per ride and this is just as safe as MyCiti. Minibus taxis might be the least safe and most annoying, and cost the most at R9, but they're the quickest. I've used this so many times and even at the worst traffic, 40 minutes is how long it takes to get between Century and Town. It can also take as quickly as 20 minutes. The last alternative is travelling by rail. A train crash is less probable than a road accident, and the only risk you take by using one is getting mugged on the train, but those incidences have gone down significantly over the years. And with just 30 minutes the time it takes from the main station is Cape Town to Century City, and at less than R7, a train seems just as great an option.

Currently, the route MyCiti buses take to get from Civic Centre to Century City and back is very, very long. I have mover credits so I spend as little as R6.40 for a ride, which is dead cheap. There's nothing stopping me from catching a ride with friends or family, which is free, or if I pitch in, would surely cost on par with other modes of transport given today's very fuel economic vehicles. Those who have to use public transport also have three alternatives to consider. Ultimately the answer to my original question is simple: the time cost of using MyCiti [specifically for this route] far outweighs the monetary saving given the alternatives, and if this is not changed soon, this route will be a failure.

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