Tuesday, February 22, 2011

No full transport plan for Gauteng

Build a fully integrated public transport system that serves the whole city will take time.

The tolls which are about to be imposed are to meet the costs of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement System, not merely that of Joburg. It is a bit disappointing to see Business Day taking such a parochial view.

And the extraordinary fact is that there is no comprehensive public transport plan for Gauteng. Each metro has its own plan as required by legislation. Gautrain was devised as a standalone rail system with its own dedicated bus feeders. As former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa used to remind us, Gauteng is a city region. The lack of a genuine co- ordinated plan for the province is quite extraordinary.

In 2007 a Gauteng Transport Management Authority was formed. It disbanded after some 18 months having achieved nothing, and having spent quite of lot of money doing so.

The second challenge to the statement in your editorial is the suggestion that to develop a fully integrated public transport system will take time. Certainly it cannot be completed tomorrow — but it can be started tomorrow simply by co-ordinating, improving and expanding what we now have. Planners and politicians alike love to look for hi -tech answers — Gautrain, Bus Rapid Transit, taxi recapitalisation; anything other than bringing together what is now operating and ensuring that the individual modes are gradually improved.

In the early stages it would not be a fully integrated system. It might merely fit where it touches. But a network would be in place which could gradually be enhanced. There would be few photo opportunities — no mass scrapping of taxis, no triumphal Gautrain test runs accompanied by high-sounding speeches.

But we might just get the first vestiges of an integrated public transport system, which would begin to offer an alternative to the toll roads.

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