PMB’s big bus plan

2013-10-18 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG is a step closer to being re-invented as a city.

Yesterday the Msunduzi council’s executive committee (Exco) heard the final details of a R3 billion plan to address traffic congestion and create an extended public transport road network.

The Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network (IRPTN), which will link suburbs with each other and the CBD, will go through its last hurdle shortly when it is considered by the full council.

Presenting the final plan to exco yesterday, IRPTN technical team member Rocky Hammond said the initiative was part of a bigger picture — that of the city re-inventing itself. He said the project, the Pietermaritzburg Urban Renewal Project and citywide electrification programme were intended for the city to cope with expansion and for economic enhancement.

The aim was to have 87% of households in the city within 500 metres of a public transport system. The system would have a mix of buses and minibus taxis, and would include cycling paths and pedestrian precincts. The main route would be a corridor from Georgetown in Edendale to Northdale, with feeder routes from other suburbs. Hammond said the current Edendale Hospital expansion would result in the hospital trebling in size. The planned public transport system would have a route linking Edendale to Northdale and Grey’s hospitals.

For residents, the new system would offer:

• a public transport system with extended hours of operation — 18 hours a day from 4 am to 10 pm, increasing to 24 hours subject to demand;

• buses and taxis running on schedule and at regular intervals;

• a public transport system geared to cater for the needs of students, who make up 24,6% of the population;

• a system catering for those with special needs and with wheelchair access;

• security, which would be a premium concern, with monitoring and control and an electronic fare system in operation; and

• a hi-tech control centre in the vicinity of Freedom Square, and a series of stations, terminals and depots for commuter comfort.

Hammond said the first phase of the project was expected to start in 2016, with the final phase expected to be completed by 2020.

“The long-term vision was to have 90% of the morning peak walking or using energy-efficient public transport. There would be maximum travel time of 45 minutes for 90% of home-based work trips,” he said.

The project represents an infrastructure investment of R3,1 billion by the national government in KZN’s capital city.

Mayor Chris Ndlela said it was critical for all stakeholders in the city to be taken along at every stage. “Thus far, we have done exceptionally well at that and we need to keep it up,” he said.

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