eThekwini plans a 24-hour bus service

2014-02-20 00:00

eTHEKWENI announced yesterday it will introduce 24-hour bus routes in the next four years as it rolls out its integrated transport system Go! Durban.

And according to city authorities, the project, with an estimated pricetag of R8,5 billion, needs to be built or else eThekwini’s road infrastructure will need to doubled over the next two decades to handle massive increases in traffic.

Already over 700 000 vehicles are on the city’s roads while just over 50% of the 3,5 million city residents have access to scheduled public transport schedules.

The new system is to consist of nine major corridors of which one will be rail and eight will be road.

With already R3,5 billion provisionally approved by the city’s medium-term budget framework, Logan Moodley, the metro’s deputy head within the Strategic Transport Planning Department, said Durban cannot allow to be dictated by market forces and needs to take a position with public transport.

“We have embarked on wall-to-wall coverage for the public transport plan. We will have extended hours, with routes open 16 to 24 hours daily, for people working shifts. Currently 20% of Durban residents rely on walking due to the costs. We must make sure the system is competitive with cars,” said Moodley

Durban is one of 13 cities selected nationally to roll out the Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network (IRPTN). It is funded by the National Treasury.

The state wants 85% of the urban population to be within one kilometre of the network.

“If we allow our city to grow purely on market forces with our low-key public transport system we will be left in dire straits.

“Otherwise, we would need to double all our road infrastructure to handle the volumes of cars. We want an efficient city and by international standards we are not efficient and we want universal access — that includes for the frail, mothers, deaf, blind and the physically disabled,” said Moodley.

The railway corridor, to run from Umlazi to Bridge City, running through the heart of the Go! Durban plan, is expected to be the backbone of Durban’s public transport.

“We have an agreement with Prasa (Passenger Rail Association of South Africa) that Durban will be one of the first recipients of the organisation’s major revamp of rail infrastructure that includes the upgrade of signalling and carriages.

“The rail should be fully functional by 2016. We expect 40% of all public transport usage to occur on rail,” said Moodley.

Last week the city signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the minibus taxi industry potentially affected by Phase 1. This phase, running from the Berea to Bridge City, kwaMashu, covers 18 stops and will use a combination of articulated buses, buses and midi-buses.

“Currently 60% of commuters use taxis. Part of the plan over 30 months is to talk to the operators to get them to understand what our vision is. With the memorandum signed we are now able to negotiate. We want a well-regulated system and not small taxis driving without consideration. However, the taxi owners have rights and legally hold licenses to run certain routes. We are looking at the operators being equity partners in the rollout,” said Moodley.

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