Dept vows BRT will not collapse
Pretoria - The department of transport vowed on Thursday to not let the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system collapse amidst major funding problems it is currently facing.
“The ongoing insufficient funding is a major concern. BRTs are mass transit network projects needing sustainable funding for 10 to 20 years … we will not allow it to collapse,” acting Transport Department director general George Mahlalela said.
He was addressing a packed SA Bus Operators Association (Saboa) conference in Pretoria, on the progress made in the introduction of integrated public transport networks in the country.
“It (BRT) is a better experience in many ways and interventions need to be put in place to deal with the funding matter.”
The project, as part of efforts to improve public transport, had already been rolled out in Johannesburg, with Pretoria expected to follow soon.
It got off to a hesitant start last year as taxi operators wanting a stake in the project brought the city to a standstill by staging a stay-away.
Francois Meyer from bus company Golden Arrow, said they welcome the implementation of the project, but hoped it would not be a “half-baked system”.
Mahlalela said investments were made in the past four years to improve modes of transport, but “not much has been achieved”. The taxi recapitalisation project and refurbishment of train coaches were examples of this.
”The target for refurbishment of 2000 coaches has not been met. We are hoping we would have met the target by March this year in time for the soccer spectacle.”
On the overall BRT project, Mahlalela said they were in talks with cities lagging behind.
Negotiations with Saboa members on how they could benefit from the project were still underway.