This is why Capetonians are spending so long stuck in traffic

Commuters slowly make their out of the Cape Town CBD. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)
Commuters slowly make their out of the Cape Town CBD. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

Population growth and a deteriorating train service were among the reasons Capetonians gave for the lengthy periods of time they were stuck in traffic in 2018, the City of Cape Town said.

According to the INRIX 2018 Global Traffic Scorecard, motorists in South Africa's oldest city lost 162 hours in the last year to congestion, Business Insider reported.

Mayoral Committee Member for Transport Felicity Purchase told News24 a multi-pronged approach was required to address traffic congestion because new roads would not alleviate the problem on its own.

"It is well documented that certain parts of Cape Town's road network are at or near capacity during the peak-hour periods. This is partly due to population growth over the past decade or so," Purchase said.

"The biggest impact, however, stems from the deterioration of passenger rail over the past few years and the displacement of passengers to road-based transport. The number of commuters making use of passenger rail has dropped from 620 000 passenger journeys per day in 2014 to less than 300 000 today."


In a bid to restore the train service as the backbone of public transport, the City of Cape Town, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) and the provincial government established the Rail Enforcement Unit, which has the improvement of the safety and security of commuters and rail assets as its primary task.

"We expect that as the rail service stabilises and improves, more commuters will return to passenger rail, which will assist a great deal to alleviate congestion on our road network."

Commuter patterns needed to be changed, Purchase said, either by travelling together, working from home where possible and travelling to and from work outside of peak-hour periods if practical.

Purchase maintained that, on its own, building new roads would not solve the congestion issue in the long term.

"Experience the world over has proven that new roads are usually taken up within a matter of months and that construction cannot stay ahead of the growing demand due to rapid urbanisation. Also, road infrastructure projects take years to complete and cause a lot of inconvenience while ongoing."

Infrastructure projects

Nevertheless, the transport directorate spent R750m on road infrastructure projects over a period of five years to address congestion in Kommetjie, Kuils River and Blaauwberg.

According to the provincial Department of Transport and Public Works, two of the three projects aimed at addressing congestion have been completed.

In 2018, the R207m N2 Borcherds Quarry project was completed. It spanned almost two years and involved the rehabilitation of an 8.1km portion of the N2, between Borcherds Quarry Road and the R300, while an additional inbound and outbound lane as well as new on- and off-ramps were constructed.

The Borcherds Quarry bridge was also widened.

Two years ago the R60m R300/Bottelary interchange was completed in a joint project with the City and the SA National Roads Agency Limited.

These connections were aimed at alleviating pressure on arterials - Van Riebeeck and Bottelary roads.

A R487m project to upgrade a section of the N1, between Plattekloof Road and Old Oak Interchange, is expected to be completed by May, with the addition of a third lane in both directions.

This is expected to significantly reduce traffic congestion, according to the provincial department.

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