Public Transport

Municipal Public Transport is a critical issue for South Africa because in terms of the National Public Transport Strategy and Action Plan 2007, municipalities are now responsible for ensuring the availability of affordable, efficient and integrated public transport.

In South Africa past policies and present practices have reinforced exclusionary transport modes and inefficient settlement patterns with resultant debilitating and unsustainable outcomes.  For the majority of the population transport was used to link distant locations of residence with those of employment rather than for sustainable, convenient service provision. Concurrently, during this period, for the minority, private car use grew.This dialogue will focus on the delivery of an integrated public transport system and services which promote and support well functioning, sustainable, and inclusive cities and towns.

However, despite growth in car use, public transport and walking are still the predominant “lifeline” forms of mobility for the vast majority (70%) of the population (NHTS2003 in DoT 2007).  Surveys indicate that the two most important generators of trips are places of education and work: education is the greatest generator of trips in urban and rural areas but in metropolitan areas places of work dominate trip generation.

Although there are many challenges it is the diversity which also provides opportunities.  This is particularly illustrated at local level. In metropolitan areas no two cities are the same and different issues take precedence. In Cape Town the rail network is dominant, whereas in Johannesburg the issues pertaining to the Gauteng City Region are a priority and in Nelson Mandela Bay it is the issue of creating coherence amongst three dispersed core areas and a rural hinterland which takes precedence.  Over and above the city specific opportunities FIFA2010 provides a crucial opportunity to accelerate public transport; however this has also raised a myriad of issues and challenges.

These differences will significantly affect network planning and operational design, and the costs of these will impact the architecture of funding and cost recovery structures. However, other than in the largest municipalities, very little capacity to undertake thorough planning, programming, budgeting and management of integrated public transport exists.

In conclusion, notwithstanding cabinet support for the previously mentioned 2007 strategy and its enabling legislation, for the majority of the population travel remains difficult, inconvenient, unpleasant, and expensive. In the words of the 15 Year Review “the system has not performed at an optimal level and public transport users have not benefited significantly from various policy initiatives undertaken by Government” (DoT in 15 Year Review. P van Ryneveld). In short public transport appears to remain Stalled in Transition.

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