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 THE WEST AT LAST MET THE "AFRICAN" WAY OF TRAVVELING

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PosOnderwerp: THE WEST AT LAST MET THE "AFRICAN" WAY OF TRAVVELING   Mon Jul 05, 2010 10:08 pm

THEY CAN THANK THEIR STARS THEY HAVE NOT AS YET- RIDE IN ONE OF CAPE-TOWN'S TRANSNET COMMUTER TRAINS. THEY WOULD HAVE TO SIT ON THE BLOODY ROOF!!

The nation, transported (AFRICAN WAY - THAT IS...)



The Gautrain's success must lead to an improvement in the lives of all, writes Glenn Ashton
Jul 4, 2010 11:11 PM | By Glenn Ashton
The Big Read: While World Cup public transport to and from our stadiums left many visitors nonplussed at our rather muddled effort towards providing mass transportation, it was South Africa's first real attempt at providing a modern, mass transit system. We must build on this slightly shaky start toward modernising our public transport.
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COMMUTER BLISS: Now that the Gautrain has significantly reduced the travel time between Sandton and OR Tambo, the nation should turn its attention to improving and upgrading transport infrastructure that may further benefit all South Africans Picture: THYS DULLAART
COMMUTER BLISS: Now that the Gautrain has significantly reduced the travel time between Sandton and OR Tambo, the nation should turn its attention to improving and upgrading transport infrastructure that may further benefit all South Africans Picture: THYS DULLAART

Under the apartheid regime, mass transit was primarily geared toward black people in dormitory townships, while whites were provided with world-class roads to get them to work. Most of our local public transport remains an apartheid hangover. Subsidised municipal buses such as Putco and City Tramways and the old segregated South African Railways commuter service were prime examples, providing transport to the likes of Mitchells Plain, Atlantis, Soweto and Mamelodi.

We had no contemporary, world-class mass transit systems in place before the World Cup arrived. Certainly the Gautrain had been proposed for a while, but the approaching tournament spurred the timely completion of a strategic section of the project. Linking this to dedicated bus lanes in the form of the Rea Vaya provided a big step forward in providing the backbone of a modern transport system to the Gauteng region.

The Gautrain's success has been demonstrated by the fact that it takes only 15 minutes for a ride that could take three or four times as long by car.

The Gautrain may not have a significant immediate benefit for most poor commuters but projects like this, along with enhanced ticketing systems and nodal transport inter-linkages, should benefit all commuters from all sectors of the population in the long term.

In the Western Cape, there has been extensive work on dedicated bus lanes that is starting to bear fruit. An efficient bus shuttle service has been introduced from Cape Town airport, together with a circular route around the city, providing both international and local commuters with entirely new options for getting around. Rapid transport buses for the northward urban expansion beyond Milnerton are also coming on line.

With viable alternatives in place, people must be encouraged to give up their cars and enticed towards using efficient, safe and reliable public transport.

The rising cost of oil, of running cars and of parking in overcrowded cities has spurred a global shift towards efficient state and metropolitan transit systems.

South Africa slowly appears to be catching up to the global status quo. We need to reinforce strong disincentives for motorcar commuters. Levies on cars entering city centres has worked around the world. These can be managed through increased parking fees and other direct and indirect congestion charges.

Making efficient and safe transport more accessible to broader sections of the population will increase its viability while reducing congestion for all commuters, rich and poor alike. Public transport is a public good, as are the roads themselves, funded by contributions from ratepayers and taxpayers across the board. The benefits must be spread more equitably.

The taxi industry arose out of a response to the poor state-run transport options available to those dormitory townships. Taxis provided an efficient alternative, but the chaotic nature of the taxi industry has had a direct influence on the development of integrated public transport systems. Violence from within this sector has been targeted at the Rea Vaya project in Johannesburg and the Bus Rapid Transit system in Cape Town, with killings, blockades, strikes and general lawlessness a result of the unhappiness of perceived or actual marginalisation of the taxi industry.

The taxi industry has not yet grasped that a modern, well-managed public transport system can benefit them. The growth of larger, mainline bus and train services, moving greater numbers of people, will in turn create further opportunities for taxis as they provide feeder and other services to the transport matrix.

Government is also at fault. They lost a great opportunity by not aligning the taxi industry with a more efficient, formalised public transport sector. This oversight is symptomatic of a non-consultative governance model, which in turn triggered a predictable backlash of reactionary intimidation and coercion.

Hopefully the growth of a more formalised, integrated public transport system will demonstrate not only the benefits of such a system to the taxi industry, but also the stability that a modern transport system brings.

Commuter services must be shown to be efficient if they are going to provide attractive alternatives. They must be able to compete against cars and other private transport in an open market. Safe "park and ride" services, reducing waiting times as much as possible and making the time spent commuting more productive, are all important parts of a successful recipe.

Metrorail has woken up to this fact by introducing select commuter trains aimed at business people. These provide Internet access, comfortable working conditions and efficient service. They will link into other services such as the Gautrain, which will significantly reduce the commuting time between Johannesburg and Pretoria while also reducing the unsustainable rush hour traffic levels on the N1. A more egalitarian outlook would help towards broadening these concepts.

The benefits of the World Cup will largely bypass those who most require assistance in our evolving state. However, improved transport links, reduced commuting time and more efficient systems can improve the productivity and life of all South Africans in the long term. An enhanced public transport system is a legacy that can stand as a reminder of the unity that hosting the World Cup brought to us as a nation. - © Sacssis


http://www.timeslive.co.za/opinion/article533270.ece/The-nation-transported

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