Desperate measures as Cape commuters have to find their own way to work

2016-04-19 12:26
A Metrorail train comes to a standstill before reaching Cape Town station. (Image: Adiel Ismail)

A Metrorail train comes to a standstill before reaching Cape Town station. (Image: Adiel Ismail)

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Why can't Cape Town Metrorail be like the Gautrain?

2016-04-18 08:49

Another Metrorail train was torched last week, this time in Kraaifontein. In this final segment of the interview, Regional Manager Richard Walker weighs in on Metrorail's seeming under-investment, deferred maintenance and outdated technology. Watch. WATCH

Cape Town - Desperate commuters hiked, bummed lifts and crammed into full minibus taxis on Tuesday morning after signal vandalism led to two-hour delays for rail passengers.

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Metrorail informed commuters to make use of alternative transport due to “anticipated delays of 120+ minutes on all lines”.

In addition, trains on the Central Line terminated at Nyanga due to protests between Lentegeur and Philippi.

Glenda May waited an hour before walking back home from Eerste River station. With only R10 in her purse to buy a loaf of bread for lunch, she didn’t have enough money to catch a taxi to Maitland, where she works as a shop assistant.

Job fears

“Metrorail is going to cost me my job,” the mother of two said.

“My boss has been more than understanding about my transport issues, but his patience is wearing thin. I don’t blame him. He is paying me in full despite me being late at least three days a week because of train delays.”

She wakes up every morning at 05:00 to get ready for work, take her seven-month-old baby to her day mother and make lunch for her eight-year-old daughter for school.

“I start at 08:45 but take a train before 07:00 to make allowance for delays. But even that doesn’t seem to work.”

Igshaan Du Preez, 46, swallowed his pride and asked a friend to take him to work.

“I don’t even have money right now to put something in his tank. He was kind enough to give me time until Monday when I get paid. I have to pay him R150 to take me to the southern suburbs,” he said.

That is more than what he earns per day as a call centre agent.

“But my company doesn’t take excuses. Staying out of work because of transport issues is not acceptable to them. And I made a plan because I don’t want to lose my job. I need it. I have too many commitments to sit without employment.”

'Pathetic' service

Jody Rhode stood at the side of Van Riebeeck Road hoping to catch a lift to Strand. He had worked a night shift at a Blackheath factory and did not have any cash to get home.

“I hiked until Eerste River. A teacher on his way to school gave me a lift till here. Hopefully someone picks me up and gets me closer to home. I have started walking, but at this rate I may as well turn around and go back to work to wait for my next shift.”

He has been making use of the train for the past 10 years, but believed the service had never been as “pathetic” as it is now.

“Some of us don’t have cars or don’t live on taxi routes. Trains are our only way of getting to work. If Metrorail don’t get their act together, then they have no right to charge us for tickets. Right now, my monthly [ticket] is useless.”

Limited services were available to commuters on the central service area on Monday and there were delays and cancellations on the northern line due to vandalism and arson last week.

On Friday morning, a train was set alight and four carriages were razed in Kraaifontein. Later that day, three carriages were set alight at the Esplanade Station.

Last weekend, two trains were set alight at Cape Town Station, resulting in the closure of platforms and delays.

Read more on:    metrorail  |  cape town  |  transport

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