Millions are being spend on transport infrastructure in Gauteng by a number of government and private agencies and while some of these entities face challenges of corruption and nepotism, commuters say they can see and experience an improvement in the urban transport system available to them.
Johannesburg, according to the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA), has a population of 4.4 million and it is growing (3.4% p.a.) but spread over a large area so population density is low compared to most cities.
About 23% of economically active people are unemployed and 67.4% of households live on less than R3200 per month, with a large percentage of poor household’s income going towards transport. Johannesburg contributes 56% to national carbon emissions and Transport has the highest demand for energy (67%)
In its 2015/2015 budget, the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport was allocated R6.6 billion for its core programmes. This was been earmarked to five programmes, namely, Administration (R318 million); Transport Infrastructure (R2.26 billion); Transport Operations (R2.19 billion); Transport Regulations (R281 million) and Gautrain (R1.5 billion).
The Johannesburg 2014 Development Strategy sets out a reality of increasing migration, urbanisation, climate change, natural resources scarcity, technological innovation, and increasing inequality as some of the driving factors for a need for improved urban transport systems.
Some of the outcomes of the strategy include improved quality of life for citizens, a sustainable environment, and high performing metropolitan areas.
According to the strategy, “mass public transport really is one of the few ‘silver bullets’ through which to deliver resilience and sustainable development.
“An efficient mass public transportation system creates significant carbon emission savings, while resulting in a city that is less dependent on private vehicles for mobility, and is less exposed to the risk of fuel price shocks. A car-dominated city such as Johannesburg is unprotected from the ever-increasing risks associated with rising fuel prices, especially where these are increasing at a faster rate than incomes. Scaling up and investing in mass public transport is one of the surest ways in which to also address and manage the legacy of Johannesburg’s Apartheid spatial form, by connecting people and places, and giving those who still remain in disadvantaged township communities access to new opportunities. The gains in terms of liveability, resilience and sustainability outweigh the initial capital costs and on-going maintenance demands.”
We took a look at some of the ways in which ordinary people are travelling in Gauteng, including:
• The Gautrain
• Rea Vaya busses
• Commercial services such as Uber
• Traditional South African taxis
• Newly developed bicycle infrastructure.
We also look at the strategic inner-city regeneration drive of the Johannesburg Development Agency.
Due to increasing congestion in the triangle between Pretoria, Johannesburg (especially Sandton and Rosebank) and the OR Tambo Airport, the Gautrain was introduced in partnership with the Gauteng Provincial government, as an integrated rapid-rail transport system. The project enjoys a 20-year concession period with 80km of railway lines (15km underground), 10 stations, 24 trains, and an estimated 136 bus routes connecting to the stations, operated by 125 busses. The pojrect created more than 100 000 direct jobs, with 230 SMMEs alone benefitting from it.
A recent economic impact study conducted by KPMG has found that the Gautrain can contribute R1.7 billion to Gauteng’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) yearly.
So far, the high speed train has generated more than R20 billion and created 34 000 jobs. The study says the construction of the Gautrain and its stations had a knock on the effect in the economy.
The company’s Chief Economist, Lullu Krugel, says since the inception of the Gautrain, there has been more development, investment and job creation in and around the centres which have the stations.
“All the knock on effects in the economy is taken into account here. Gautrain bought its cement and construction material and the people who were employed and had salaries. Very often we forget that all of these exist and sometimes it’s looked at as a project in isolation. So it’s an important enabler for the second round effects in the economy as well.”
The study also shows how Gautrain reduces daily traffic by 21 000 car trips per day. The research has found that the Gautrain is three times faster than driving in peak time traffic.
Krugel says that commuters who use the high speed train daily save up to 10 to 12 working days per year.
“That enables people to be more productive, to get home. And understand that time is money and if people lose time on the road, it costs the economy at the end of the day. Also, it reduces accidents therefore reduces the costs of accidents to the economy.”
Model Mikayla McClean says she uses the the Gautrain frequently from Pretoria to Rosebank to see her agent.
“I think the Gautrain is very efficient, cost wise it is the same price as would petrol, I don’t have a car so I take the train,” says McClean.
Watch the full interview below:
Tuk Tuks, small three-wheeler motorbike taxis, were initially introduced in the Melville and Auckland park area of Johannesburg to address student transport challenges.
The Asian-style taxis are cheap and efficient, and have proved a hit among young people especially. The Tuk Tuks now also operate on Sandton.
News Producer Bomkazi Malobola, who uses a Tuk Tuk regularly says using a Tuk Tuk is cool.
“In Joburg you find that taxi drivers have problems with Tuk Tuk drivers or users. They believe Tuk Tuk drivers are taking customers from them,” says Malobola.
Listen to the full interview below:
Rea Vay and the Bus Rapid Transit system (BRT)
The Rea Vaya bus transport system is seen as the Johannesburg Development Agency’s flagship programme.
According to the JDA, “such developments address apartheid social engineering and spatial imbalances, whereby the majority of South Africans were forced to live on the outskirts of cities and towns, far from places of work and shops.”
In 1909, electric trams were operating along Louis Botha Avenue (and Grant Avenue in Norwood by 1911), which enabled developing the denser mixed-use buildings that characterise these areas. The special disparities of Apartheid is being addressed by also developing a Corridor of Freedom along the Louis Botha route.
Former University of Johannesburg (UJ) student Ntokozo Khanyile, says the implimenmtation of Rea Vaya in Auckland Park is effective.
Khanyile says using a Rea Vaya instead or a taxi or a private car saves a lot of money.
Listen to the full interview below:
Uber is an American transportation network that connect people wanting transport with drivers in their own area. Uber therefore does not own a single car, but has taken by the transport service industry by storm.
The legality of Uber has been challenged by some who say the use of unlicensed taxi drivers is unsafe and illegal.
Recently, Uber drivers faced a wave of antagonism in South Africa, with services being suspended in some areas due to intimidation towards drivers.
Travellers enjoy the Uber experience though as they can arrange transport via their mobile phones, and rides are cashless with fees being deducted electronically from clients’ bank accounts.
In South Africa, the traditional kombi taxi will most likely never disappear. Feared and loathed by many road users for their infamous disregard of road laws, taxis still remain the most affordable transport option for millions of South Africans.
The JDA is, however, attempting to change areas traditionally dominated by taxis, and often seen as unsafe, into transit-orientated nodes that are aesthetically more pleasing, eases pedestrian and vehicle congestion, and support investor and public confidence in the areas. Focus areas include the Jabulani node upgrade, the Orlando East/Noodgesig facelift, the Randburg CBD, and the Westgate station precinct.
Jourbalist Kay Tatyana Selisho, uses a taxi on a daily bases.
Selisho says taxis as a form of public transport are effective, yet they have a let down when it comes to time.
“Like the other morning it took forever for the taxi to fill up and I had planned my trip. I always plan my trips, I leave an hour early to make provision for evertthing, I was 45 minutes late, waiting for people to fill up a taxi” say Selisho.
Listen to the full interview below:
The Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) has earmarked R120m to create cycle lanes connecting the University of Johannesburg and Park Station in one of many moves to make Joburg bike friendly.
There are also plans to build cycling routes between the station and Ellis Park, as well as Alexandra and Sandton.
Generic bike Cyclists will be able to ride safely between the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in Auckland Park and Park Station in Braamfontein once the separate cycle route is complete.
According to Siyabonga Genu, a JDA’s project manager says: “The city is trying to encourage cycling throughout the metropolitan. One of our target markets is the students,” said Genu, who added that the agency had received support from various cycling associations.
Corridors of Freedom – pedal-power
According to the City of Johannesburg’s 2014 plan, “the shape of the future city will consist of well-planned transport arteries – the Corridors of Freedom – linked to interchanges where the focus will be on mixed-use development.
“Joburgers will then not have to use private motorised transport but can opt for the alternative means, which include cycling, bus lanes and pedestrian walkways.
“The Corridors of Freedom will transform entrenched settlement patterns, which have shunted the majority of residents to the city’s outskirts, away from economic opportunities and access to jobs and growth.
“Gone will be the days of being forced to rise at dawn to catch a train, bus or taxi to a place of work. Families will be able to have quality time, with spouses and children sharing meals together in the evening.
Targeted areas include, in the medium term (2016):
- Soweto to the Central Business District (CBD) along Perth Empire
- CBD to Alexandra
- Alexandra to Sandton
- Turfontein node
- Mining Belt
In the long term (2040):
- Sandton/Randburg to Diepsloot
- Alexandra to Ivory Park
For more than a decade, the JDA has been focussing on uplifting the Johannesburg inner-city area. They have seen some successes, such as in the Maboneng, improvements to alleyways in Braamfontein, and developing the Braamfontein Improvement District.