Cape Town - Metrorail has announced a new service to help workers inform their superiors if they will be late for work.
The GoMetro service, which informs commuters of train times and delays via apps and mobile websites, has been expanded with a button that automatically sends a notification to an employer that a worker delayed on a train might be late. For now the button is active for commuters in the Western Cape but plans are in place to roll it out next to Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
The feature is also planned to limit the need for workers to queue to get official confirmation that trains are running late.
"Every time there is a delay or disruption to trains in the Western Cape, workers who are late need to stand in long queues in order to receive letters to give their employers in order not to receive written warnings," said Justin Coetzee, GoMetro CEO.
The new button is able to generate an automatic late note, even if the workers do not have an internet connection.
Unlike a general mail, the generated note is specific to the individual who has registered on the application.
According to data from the Metrorail weekly newsletter, at least 10% of trains are regularly cancelled which impacts on commuters getting to work.
While the company claims that it transports more than four million on a daily basis, it is not clear how many trains actually on specific lines.
During the Soccer World Cup in 2010, Metrorial services were efficient and trains operated until late, as well as having active and regular police patrols.
However, Metrorail is under pressure to deliver an efficient public transport system and is often beset by vandalism, rolling stock failures and signal problems on ageing infrastructure.
To remedy the acute shortage of rolling stock and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) announced in its annual report for 2012/2013 (the latest which is freely available) that it was embarking on an ambitious procurement programme.
"The 2012/13 Financial Year will go down in history as the year in which Prasa formally embarked on and completed the procurement process for the acquisition of a new fleet for its Metrorail services (Rolling Stock Fleet Renewal Programme)," the organisation said in the report.
Prasa intends to embark on a decade-long programme to acquire 7 224 new coaches from 2015.
GoMetro was careful to point out that the email service would only be sent when requested by an employee.
To access the service, commuters need to go to GoMetro.co.za, m.gometro.co.za, or via USSD by dialling *120*4668#.
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