The growth of Africa’s middle class is to improving investor confidence, financial inclusion and contribution toward the formal economy and is, therefore, of the utmost importance to economic development. The emergence of this middle class has led to rapid urbanisation, with most seeking a better future and job prospects in the developed cities.
Research shows that by 2030, more than 50% of Africa’s population will be living in cities. “This mass migration is already placing strain on the existing infrastructure. Available resources and the present modes of transportation are simply not equipped to accommodate the projected volumes. This is a challenge for most emerging countries including South Africa,” commented Lawrence Kandaswami, managing director, SAP South Africa.
Cities need to develop and evolve just as rapidly, to accommodate the needs of the new urbanites that trade in the city. Technology has an important role to play, particularly in terms of transporting these urbanites. If the countries in Africa achieve this goal, technological innovation has the potential to bring about sustainable economic advancement with equal opportunity and quality of life for passengers.
What are the driving forces behind the need to transform public transport?
• Rapid urbanisation and changing regulations shifting the risks to industry;
• Pressure on public cost and subsidies, driving the need for innovative approaches to future revenue streams;
• Increased emphasis on supporting and evolving existing platforms;
• Travellers’ need for efficiency and transparency in pricing, including one-stop booking of travel with consistent pricing across various channels;
• Clear understanding of the various options for multi-trip or single trips across various providers.
The use of innovative technology emerges as an ideal solution to help transform the transportation industry, by driving a world class service through real-time collaboration and monitoring and providing insights to improve service delivery and enable cost reductions.
Transformation of transport systems
Recent advances in technology and rapid adoption of smartphones have led to the connected traveler, who has constant access to information via social and other channels. As a result, transport organisations are now able to deliver a personalised engagement, tailored to the needs of the individual passenger.
Kandaswami added that “there is a sense of urgency for transportation authorities and cities to transform their business processes in order to accommodate the needs of citizens for a reliable and accessible transport system. Technology has an important role to play in this transformation process by providing the underlying platform that supports the industry with an integrated system connecting all modes transport around the cities.”
Pioneering technologies such as the integrated SAP industry software for travel and transportation, for instance, provide a comprehensive, end-to-end solution that allows transport organisations to plan, schedule, predict and react with real-time insights to passenger behavior, travel patterns and transportation network conditions.
The benefits of a digitally transformed and integrated public transport system:
• A transport provider network that is inclusive of all modes of transport;
• Transport is integrated therefore accessible, reliable, affordable and efficient;
• Development of new skills with the promise of further job creation;
• Provide the passenger with multi-touch points to create a seamless travel experience;
• A 360-degree view of the passenger to accommodate for varying traveler needs.
Technology is already helping the passenger travel industry across the world to deliver safety and a more integrated travel experience. SAP continues to invest in creating innovative solutions, which will enable sustainable economic growth for the continent’s people.
South African public transport operators need “to do more with less” as the economy contracted and the national fiscus faced increasing financial pressure, said National Treasury intergovernmental relations deputy director-general Malijeng Ngqaleni on Monday as she addressed the Southern African Transport Conference in Pretoria.
She noted that the current system of public transport subsidies was “clearly not sustainable”. This system largely subsidised the middle-class through subsidies to train and bus services, such as Metrorail and Gautrain, and not the poor, who primarily used the unsubsidised minibus taxi system.
She regarded the minibus system as “very efficient”, as it serviced 67% of public transport users, collecting 71% of public transport fares in South Africa.
She added that South Africa’s current public transport system was “by and large very costly and not very efficient”, especially as private car use continued “to accelerate”.
“We are not doing enough to help the poor. In our current fiscal environment, there must be a better way.”
Ngqaleni said the South African government had spent R167-billion on public transport infrastructure and operational subsidies (excluding the road network) over the last ten years, at an average yearly growth rate of 18%.
This growth rate could, however, be lower in future, owing to lower economic growth, she added.
Quoting figures from the 2014 National Treasury Expenditure Performance Review of South Africa’s PublicTransport and Infrastructure Systems, she noted that the municipal bus service received between R16.75 and R24.36 operating subsidy per passenger per trip, while conventional bus services, such as Putco, received between R11.40 and R16.89.
Bus rapid transit (BRT) systems received between R11.76 and R15.12. The operating subsidy for Metrorail was R3.73 per passenger per trip, and R60.30 for the Gautrain, which she regarded as “a huge subsidy”.
The Gautrain, however, recovered 57% of its costs through the fare box, with Metrorail at 39%, BRTs at between 28% and 44%, conventional bus systems between 31% and 44% and municipal bus systems between 13% and 31%.
Ngqaleni was not, however, opposed to public transport subsidies.
“We need to subsidise public transport systems. Public transport systems the world over are almost always subsidised.”
She said Taiwan and Hong Kong could recover around 100% of their costs through fare income, with the US at between 26% and 56%. Fare box recovery in Europe was between 40% and 91%.
Ngqaleni suggested that public transport spending in South Africa should increasingly be linked to land use planning and integration between public transport modes, for example.
“We should use the fiscal system to drive integration.”
It was also possible to use subsidies to create a safer, more convenient minibus taxi system, without surrendering any of the system’s current efficiency.
She emphasised, however, that there was no time frame yet for the provision of subsidies to the taxi industry.
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The topic of climate change is at the heart of recent discussions, as world leaders from over 190 countries met in Paris at the UN Conference and an estimated 70,000 people marched in London to raise awareness of global warming. Our carbon emission is no longer a problem, but a serious threat.
The majority of our activity here on earth emits carbon dioxide as well as a range of other greenhouse gases. The gas emission traps the sun’s heat, leading to the increase of global temperature. The stakes are higher than ever before, as the rise of even a few degrees is enough to turn the earth into an unstable environment, unsuitable for humans to flourish. Western societies are responsible for the highest amount of emission; however, the harsh effects of this are felt most by those in vulnerable positions in many developing countries. From life-threatening floods to droughts, humans all over the world who are least responsible are paying the price for our excessive use of resources.
With seasonal holiday travel just around the corner, it’s a good time to question whether we, as much as our own government, have a responsibility to live and travel in a conscious and sustainable manner.
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) defines ecotourism as responsible travel to countries with a mindset that aims to conserve the environment, minimise impact and improve the well-being of local people. Eco-travel allows you as a tourist to build environmental and cultural awareness; in effect, providing positive experiences for you, the visitor and your hosts. The two overlapping factors of conscious travel are ecotourism and ethical tourism. The world trade organization reports ecotourism to be the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry worldwide.
The availability of cheap travel means that now more than ever, people seek to go on holiday, even if it’s just for a few days. We often allow ourselves to spend more money and purely enjoy the experience of not having to worry about anything other than eating, drinking and sight-seeing. After all, you’re on holiday! Yet, it’s this kind of mentality that is a part of excessive resource waste that is a huge challenge of mass tourism.
By embracing conscious travel, you can allow yourself to feel more present and mindful of the whole experience. Here are some suggestions to help you become a conscious traveller:
The central focus of ecotourism is the preservation and protection of local environment and culture and, as a result, volunteering in both rural and natural landscapes is commonly associated with ecotourism. Whilst it is a great way to learn new skills and offer hands-on assistance with conservation of coastlines, animals and national parks, it has now become a student phenomenon, where organisations often expect large amounts of money in return for the opportunity to help. Many are dissuaded by the idea of having to pay organisations for such placements when the same money could be used on a fun holiday instead. However, there are a number of animal sanctuaries and national parks all over the world that will openly allow you to volunteer without having to pay a penny! These establishments are much harder to find because they do not advertise placements through other agents and instead will value your time if you approach them yourself.
Ecotourism is not limited to volunteering in nature. You can find opportunities to be a conscious traveller in virtually any city in the world. Sustainability: how you get to a city and find your way around it, is incredibly important. This means you should find creative ways to reach your destination and whilst there, try and support locally owned businesses. Embrace ethical tourism by using public transport systems, staying in hostels and hotels that make an effort to be green. This is more than likely to enhance local economies as well as communities wherever you go.
Amsterdam, Netherlands: This city has an incredible commitment to keeping green. Its public transport system is virtually non-existent as everyone loves to cycle everywhere! Why not rent a bike, and head to a locally owned restaurant for lunch?
Reykjavik, Iceland: The capital of Iceland is already powered entirely by hydro-power and geothermal resources. It has a goal of completely eliminating the use of fossil fuels by 2050. Take a trip to hike around the local volcano, bathe in thermal waters and enjoy the spectacular display of the northern lights.
By choosing to be a conscious traveller, you are allowing yourself to be more mindful of your environment as well as offer future generations a chance to see the world how we see it today.
Despite the current project affordability constraints, South Africa has made exponential improvements in progressing its public transport projects, says professional services firm KPMG.
“There is increased awareness of the absolute need for better public transport,” stresses KPMG infrastructure advisory head of global infrastructure major projects De Buys Scott, further highlighting that key project achievements include defining a proper strategy for public transport services.
He adds that this is what prompted the public and private sectors to initiate several public-transport infrastructure projects in recent years.
Key transport project milestones include the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (PRASA’s) R53-billion passenger fleet refurbishment and replacement programme, the programme to refurbish and replace PRASA’s ageing infrastructure, the completed and ongoing implementation of bus rapid transit (BRT) systems across the country, as well as the Gautrain’s extension-feasibility study to investigate expansion areas for the rapid passenger rail system.
The Gautrain and PRASA projects are key flagship projects in which KPMG is currently involved.
The company is assisting PRASA with the requirements and studies needed for the rolling stock, technical depot, station and testing facilities, and the Gautrain with its fleet-expansion project and extension- feasibility studies, as well as the sourcing of potential alternative revenue.
Scott believes that KPMG’s ability to assist with these projects was underscored by the company being awarded the 2015 Global Financial Adviser of the Year by infrastructure news and resource centre the Infrastructure Journal, in its yearly Global Awards for Excellence, which took place last month.
Scott maintains that the PRASA investment will play the most significant role in accommodating South Africans in public transport.
“PRASA’s passenger fleet refurbishment and replacement programme, when completed, will provide double the transport capacity at double the speed in a safe environment, thereby creating a material improvement in the system.”
The agency’s current fleet, which has reached the end of its design life capacity, will be replaced by new, faster and more reliable trains. These will be procured from France-based transport company and original- equipment manufacturer Alstom.
The first trains are expected to be delivered and commissioned by the second half of 2016. Up to 3 600 new train units will be deployed in the next ten years.
Scott says the refurbishment of the Metrorail system will also provide those with a higher living- standards measurement with an alternative to private car use, which might reduce the use of private- and public-vehicle road transport.
Scott further highlights the need for the public sector to seriously consider improving long-distance passenger train systems in South Africa.
“Systems like the Shosholoza Meyl – PRASA’s long-distance passenger rail services division – need to be investigated for a sustainable business model,” he suggests, adding that after defining the model, a feasibility study and procurement roll-out should follow.
The Shosholoza Meyl currently operates various train routes across South Africa, carrying about four-million passengers a year. Long-distance services are currently also supported by long-distance bus services for intercity and interprovince transport requirements.
Scott reiterates that public transport remains a significant catalyst “for changing mindsets and driving investment into more robust and enabling infrastructure for the country”, adding that the correct passenger and freight transport projects and programmes are currently under way in South Africa.
“However, we need to appreciate the time required for these projects to be properly bedded, and we need to be aware that they must be monitored, periodically evaluated and amended accordingly.”
These actions are mandatory, as several of the projects are greenfield investments for South Africa, he adds, further suggesting that South Africa can advance the development of its transport systems by drawing from other global initiatives – specifically those in other developing countries – in terms of what worked better and what lessons were learnt.
“As long as there is an open mind to other possibilities and efficiency enhancers, South Africa is on the right track,” he concludes.
Separate public transport lanes, light-emitting diode (LED) streetlights and buses powered by compressed natural gas and biogas are some of the steps South Africa’s cities are considering in a bid to cut down on carbon emissions. These moves and a range of other ideas and projects were outlined at the Green Building Convention in Cape Town, this week.
City officials were advocating awareness programmes and steps to counter congestion and emissions, such as car pooling and encouraging walking, cycling and the use of public transport. Tshwane Rapid Transit planning and implementation executive director Imelda Matlawe said Tshwane is considering introducing public transport lanes for morning and afternoon peaks. It was currently looking at how this would operate.
It was also looking at integrating various transport modes, from rail to buses and taxis, which she said would continue to be part of South Africa’s transport landscape. “We cannot wish taxis away. They are accessible for so many people and we need to manage them.”
Matlawe said Tshwane had procured 40 buses that would operate on compressed natural gas, while Leigh Stolworthy from the City of Cape Town, said Cape Town was working on introducing electric buses. In Johannesburg, where emissions are highest, buses powered by biogas will likely be part of future plans.
“In time, we want to grow grass on the mine dumps and convert this into biogas to fuel buses,” says City of Johannesburg Transport Department executive director Lisa Seftel. She said creating dedicated cycle lanes, promoting events such as the Freedom Ride and recapitalising the metro bus system were ways of making Johannesburg more sustainable.
“About 65% of carbon emissions in Johannesburg come from transport. We have to change this and we need to mainstream sustainability in everything we do.” In Pretoria, Matlawe says, many street and traffic lights have been converted to LED, while traffic lights in Johannesburg were fitted with LED lights.
It is a balance, said Seftel, as LED lights are very expensive.emissions-2015-11-05.
On moving both cargo and passengers from road to rail, there had been some progress, albeit slow. The speakers agreed that rail was an important backbone for cities. Transnet has announced it was investing R800-million over a five- to seven-year period on new rolling stock, lines and other infrastructure.
In Tshwane, new signalling and rolling stock would be introduced, while the east to west line towards Mamelodi would be doubled. “This is not going to happen in a flash though. It’s incremental,” said Matlawe.
Johannesburg – Finding parking in shrinking urban spaces that have to deal with a huge influx of motor vehicles is frustrating for commuters who still commute to work in their privately owned cars. However, that may change soon as more and more commuters transition to more sustainable ways of commuting.
The EcoMobility festival, ending this week, has given South Africans a preview of what a future in which they commute to work in different modes may look like.
Karthi Pillay, Deloitte Africa Manufacturing and Automotive Leader, said the festival had shown that building sustainable cities that have an integrated public transport in South Africa was possible.
The glimpse into a sustainable, ecomobile future included walking, cycling and making use of electric bicycles and cars, even sharing driverless cars which commuters did not necessarily own. Cycle lanes are soon set to be integrated into the Sandton business precinct.
Pillay noted Sandton was selected to host the festival due to the increasing number of commuters entering the precinct. The number of commuters to the area had increased at an annual rate of 3,4% per year, and it was projected that the numbers of commuters to the area would continue to grow at around 3% per year.
EcoMobility had shown that while the technology exists, changing perceptions from using a privately owned car to public transport would take some time, especially as there was room for improvement in the public transport sector, particularly in terms of infrastructure.
The change, Pillay noted, would also require new thinking around crime and using public transport as new ways of reducing crime were looked at and as more commuters began to use their smartphones to book public transport services online.
Pillay believed South Africa was ready to embrace a shift towards ecomobility, but that this change would require “a massive mindshift, both by auto industry – whether it be auto manufacturing, insurance, financing or fuel – and by consumers”
The push to have motorists use public transport and walk around Sandton ahead of the closure and alteration of surrounding roads is unrealistic and unsafe, a Sandton commuter has said.
October will see Sandton roads being closed or altered as part of the EcoMobility Festival, which aims to push more motorists to use public transport.
This represents a fundamental change to those who commute to Sandton by car everyday for work, and less so for those who use public transport. The road closures will last the whole month, with some of the changes made, such as certain park-and-rides, to continue after October.
For the first time in South Africa, the EcoMobility World Festival will be held in Sandton. The first such festival was held in Suwon City, South Korea in 2013.
For the month of October, key parts of Sandton will be closed to private vehicles. Those who work in Sandton will need to use alternative forms of transport, such as buses, bicycles and the Gautrain, or travel on foot.
News24 canvassed a few opinions from people who worked in Sandton or commuted there, prompting mixed reactions.
Both Precious and Saskia work in shops in Sandton City, which is in the middle of road changes.
“I think it’s a very good idea. We [are] trying to stop the harmful emissions that are hurting the earth so I’m all for it,” Precious told News24.
“People must enjoy walking. They must use their legs more and… exercise because it’s healthier and they get to enjoy the atmosphere. Walking around as opposed to driving, you get to see everything, so I’m all for it.”
This was echoed somewhat by Saskia, who also wondered how those commuting into the area might feel come October 1.
“It’s going to take… time to get used to it and people might get frustrated. Walking is not bad. I use public transport.”
Renee, who sometimes comes to Sandton for work, felt it was a good initiative, but had concerns whether the whole exercise was practical.
“I just don’t know if it’s realistic for South Africa because… in our country, things are so unsafe, and I just don’t know if it’s going to be safe enough for me to walk so I’m not trusting it 100%. I think it’s a great initiative in theory. In practice, I don’t know if it will work,” she said.
Robert, who frequents Sandton for shopping and does not work far from the area, echoed Renee’s concerns, calling the exercise irresponsible.
“It’s a bit irresponsible without having a back-up plan. I know there is always a back-up plan but I don’t believe the plan will be executed correctly.”
On Twitter, the same applied, with some praising the move while others called it madness.
EACH year when we attend the Cape Getaway Show many prospective tourists ask about road safety, particularly involving the N2 thoroughfare between East London and Kokstad in the Eastern Cape.
This link is recognised as one of the most dangerous in South Africa and this reputation can act as a deterrent for visitors seeking to have holidays away from the Western and Cape.
Thankfully we can offer inquirers the hassle-free option to take the Karoo and scenic R56 option via the Eastern Cape Highlands to Kokstad and then on to the coast. Not many people know this, but it is in fact the shortest route from Cape Town to the South Coast.
I have driven the R56 many times and can say that the roads are excellent, not congested with cars, public transport, heavy duty trucks, people and livestock and certainly one of the most beautiful and safe routes one can take.
What is clear is that a route to, and roads within a destination that have a poor safety reputation, can get the consumers asking questions and heading off to less daunting places to have their holidays.
In local media reports, it appears there have been an unacceptable number of unfortunate and serious accidents which may be ascribed to speed, non-roadworthy vehicles, alcohol, carelessness or a combination of it all. This is a worry.
We are committed to all and sundry having a “Sunny and Safe” experience down here. Besides the need for drivers to continually act in a law-abiding manner, a zero- tolerance approach by the authorities will also induce the motoring public to be more responsible on our roads.
I have been told by visitors that it is very encouraging when there is strong evidence of law enforcement. Their presence provides comfort to the motorist in that attention to road safety is being lent and that transgressions are being curbed.
One of the buzz terms in our industry is referred to as “Responsible Tourism” and I would say that attention to road safety by the public and the enforcement entities fits into that holistic approach.
In 1976 I spent five weeks travelling throughout the United Kingdom and in all that time I did not see evidence of a single accident (minor or major). I was amazed and impressed as would our visitors if they went home with a similar view of our district.
We can turn negatives into positives, tragedy into triumph – it just takes a collective effort. Please be safety conscious on our roads.
Fully electric doubledecker bus with new compact battery to launch in autumn, as London prepares for ultra low emission zone, reports China Daily
For years, London’s red doubledecker buses have dominated the capital, where nearly 1,000 routes are operated by 8,700 buses, many of them doubledeckers. Although there has been a gradual move to hybrid vehicles, many are still diesel-powered.
This will all change in October, when the world’s first pure electric zero-emission doubledecker bus, designed and built by Chinese automotive manufacturer BYD, will enter service in London.
The electric doubledecker bus represents a technology breakthrough in public transportation, said Isbrand Ho, managing director of BYD Auto Europe.
“In the past, electric vehicle manufacturers have produced electric buses with three batteries – at the vehicle’s front, back and top – but this design would not work with the doubledecker bus. BYD’s advanced technology is able to make the batteries more compact, so the battery on top of the bus is no longer required,” he said.
“London has the most dense population in Europe and has the highest visibility of doubledecker buses. London is replacing 700 to 800 doubledecker buses every year, so there is a big market.”
According to Ho, the inspiration to supply doubledecker buses to London came about two years ago when Wang Chuanfu, chairman of BYD, met with London mayor Boris Johnson.
“Boris Johnson said to our chairman, ‘If you can make it, I will buy it’.
“Actually, electric cars came before gasoline cars, but because of the weakness of the batteries, gasoline cars became more successful. But now is the time for electric cars to take over gasoline cars,” Ho said, explaining that the environmental benefit and the fuel cost savings of electric vehicles give them a distinct advantage.
Denis Naberezhnykh, the head of ultra-low emission vehicle and intelligent transportation system technology at the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory, praised BYD’s achievement.
“Until now, fully electric doubledecker buses have been considered unfeasible. This is mainly due to the competing requirements for battery space and passenger capacity,” Naberezhnykh said.
He says unlike their single-decker counterparts, doubledecker buses in London typically cannot accommodate batteries on the roof due to the height limits of the vehicle.
“A purely electric doubledecker bus not only provides further options for the electrification of London’s bus fleet, but with growing pressure to improve air quality in cities and the impending introduction of the ultra low emission zone in London, it provides another way of reducing emissions,” Naberezhnykh said. The zone is set to launch by 2020.
“Over the next few years, we can expect to see a growing shift toward the electrification of public transport vehicles, as we seek to reduce air pollutants in urban centres and improve local air quality. Ensuring that these vehicles are able to operate the demanding duty cycles without excessive charging time requirements will be a vital factor in accelerating this shift.”
London has already introduced hybrid buses in a bid to reduce the environmental impact of public transport.
The latest development is the New Routemaster bus, designed by English designer Thomas Heatherwick, which is 15% more fuel efficient than the existing hybrid buses and 40% more efficient than conventional diesel doubledeckers.
The first New Routemaster vehicles, nicknamed “Boris buses” after the mayor of London, began service on a limited number of routes in 2012, and it is planned that more than 600 of the buses will enter passenger service by 2016.
BYD chose London for the launch of the all-electric doubledecker bus because of the vehicle’s iconic significance, but the same technology can be applied to many other markets, including European markets such as Germany and Asian markets such as Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.
Many of these markets would require localisation of design to suit customer needs, for example, with regards to wheelchair access, but the core technology of battery, control system and electric drivetrain would all be the same, according to Ho.
The first batch of BYD doubledecker buses will consist of five vehicles, all manufactured in China. Ho says BYD will explore the possibility of local manufacturing if the quantity supplied increases.
BYD won’t disclose the cost of the buses, explaining that it is highly dependent on customer specifications and volume, but says the electric buses can help save about 70% of the costs of fuel, producing long-term savings.
The latest New Routemaster costs £325,000 each, compared with £200,000 for an existing hybrid vehicle, according to the mayor’s office.
“For a bus, the largest part of the cost is actually the fuel, so over the long term electric vehicles can give a big cost saving effect,” Ho says.
The main challenge for electric buses is the lack of charging points, as is the case with other electric vehicles, because the technology is still relatively new, he says.
His team is working with Metroline, the London bus operator, to install charging infrastructure at bus depots, and is providing guidance on how to install the charging points, where to install them, what type of power requirements are needed. The company has invited Metroline engineers to China to see similar facilities.
Two years ago, BYD supplied two single-decker buses to the London bus operator Go-Ahead, which are still in use. BYD also helped Go-Ahead with installing the charging points.
The charging points are installed at bus depots, where the buses are parked at night, so the way the buses operate during the day is not affected. Most bus routes can be serviced for a full day on a single charge, needing only four hours to recharge during the night, using cheaper off-peak electricity, he says.
Founded in Shenzhen in 2003, BYD is already a leader in electric vehicles in both its domestic and international markets.
Ho says in Europe the company hopes to focus on the commercial vehicle market first, producing buses and taxis, because these vehicles can reach a wider user base and help BYD to build up a brand in Europe.
BYD has supplied vehicles to many countries, including Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, the UK and Spain. Its European headquarters is in the Netherlands.
Looking ahead, Ho is optimistic about growth in the use of electric vehicles in Europe, because cities are becoming increasingly densely populated with many people preferring to live in the city, creating a big demand on public transport.
Meanwhile, the environmental credentials of the electric vehicles is also a big contributor to this trend, as European cities move increasingly to reduce pollution, he says.
According to China’s ministry of industry and information technology, some 19,000 plug-in electric cars, buses and trucks were produced in China in May. The International Energy Agency says China ranks third on the list of countries using pure electric cars, with 80,000 sold since 2008.
As public transport increasingly becomes a nightmare in the capital, characterised by congestion and daunting delays, the Ministry of Transport and Communications has engaged an international advisory urban transport consultancy firm – CPCS, in a vigorous exercise to address the problem.
A consultative workshop convened by the ministry to share ideas on strategies to improve the public transport systems of the Greater Gaborone Area, revealed a total of 200,000 trips are made daily between the city and surrounding areas. Despite the consultancy’s optimism, a dark cloud of uncertainty and skepticism engulfed the many operators who convened in Phakalane.
CPCS senior consultant, Amos Ditima, reiterated lack of integration between urban planning, transport planning and land use planning saying it is an eyesore to Gaborone’s public transport sector.
He said an ongoing study, Implementation of an Improved Metropolitan Public Transport System for the Greater Gaborone Area has found that of the over 400, 000 vehicle population nationwide, over 50 percent of these are in the city.
“There are 200, 000 daily trips between Gaborone and surrounding towns and villages, 97 percent of these are within Gaborone,” said Ditima.
The vehicle composition of these daily trips reveals that 86 percent are through light vehicles, with cars taking up a sizeable 60 percent, while vans constitutes 26 percent and taxis made up one percent of the traffic.
Buses, on the other hand, made up a mere eight percent, while minibuses composed of the small percentage and no large buses recorded in this daily traffic mix. Adding into the poor integration in planning, Ditima said the study found the city’s public transport system sub-optimal, as it does not deliver an organised system. Though the city council provides and maintains the necessary infrastructure, he said the sector is burdened by unregulated informal free market system of minibus and taxi operators providing uncoordinated and poor quality service.
Currently, existing operators operate mostly as individuals except for long distance buses, which are represented by an association. Moreover, he said the permit system is inadequate for economic regulation, and over-supply of permits in the market.
CPCS therefore says there is a need to restructure existing institutions, open up the transport markets to the private sector, corporatise ministry and commercialise publicly owned transport bodies.
“A central feature of regulation is to support the market and to control abuse of monopoly power. There are four major options: administered public monopoly, regulated private monopoly, unregulated market, and regulated competition,” Ditima said.
He added that it is important for the success of the new system to take on board those operators who are currently offering public transport services, however, in a more organised manner, with the necessary training and infrastructure provided.
“The new system will only be considered to be successful if it delivers the required outcomes which are; faster journey times, significant modal shift from cars to public transport, reduced congestion, less waiting time, and easier through movements,” he opined.
To this end, members of the Gaborone Taxi Association have been on a benchmarking exercise in George in South Africa, where the municipality is said to have succeeded in enhancing the public transport efficiency through merging independent operators into one company.
The chairperson of the association, Gopolang Tlhomelang, is optimistic that with government subsidies the same model can achieve results in Gaborone. “George has a population of 150 thousand, and we are 100 thousand more than they are. I believe if our permits are to be valued and shareholding is determined based on the value of the permits like they did, and all existing employees in the sector are incorporated in the new entity, then we can have a success model as well,” he said.
The workshop was attended by road transport operators, academicians, and government officials to promote the system, which is widely accepted as the fundamental component to contain road traffic congestion, environmental pollution and other externalities of transport.
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