A Re Yeng - Should Tshwane Residents Give a Standing Ovation?

(Article by Emelia M)

When you want to buy or rent a property one of the first things to consider is the mode of transport between your desired residence and the workplace. 

Not only that but you would want your children to have a safe, comfortable and reliable mode of transport which will be able to ferry them too school. 

When you live in the city there is the added need to comfortably move from point A to B, either for economic or social reasons. 

Currently, it is difficult for those without personal transport to move between Pretoria townships and some of its suburbs or entertainment centres. This is due to public transport being scheduled to operate relational to working hours. Many who lack personal transport struggle to take advantage of economic privileges that may either be in the CBD or business centres in the suburbs.  

The above challenges also derail many people who may wish to buy or rent property in the suburbs but do not own cars or have family members who may need constant use of public transport. 

Another disturbing issue in the capital is traffic congestion, which many believes, a decent public transport system should be able to eradicate. During peak hours the major routes in and out of the city are even more pressured, causing many to arrive late for work or home. 

The City of Tshwane believes Bus Rapid Transit, A Re Yeng, can resolve the public transport problem in the city.   Through Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network (IRPTN) the capital aims to achieve the following: “ efficient, safe, reliable, cost effective, accessible rapid bus transport system”; “improved travel times during peak hours”; “reduced traffic congestion on roads”;  “environmental benefits”;  “greater mobility and access to key employment, economic and social nodes”;  “greater integration of various public transport systems such as Gautrain, Metrorail etc”;  “economic growth and development” and  “greater connectivity between communities and entrench a one city philosophy”.
Indeed, Tshwane BRT plans are assuring. The buses will travel from 5AM-8:30 PM during the week and 7AM-7PM on weekends and public holidays. They would travel on dedicated lanes, reducing the time it takes to travel to work or school.  

However, the same BRT plans (operating as Re Ya Vaya buses) were implemented more than three years ago in Johannesburg. It was applauded by commuters for fast, safe, comfortable and cost effective travelling. But service breakdowns undercut the effectiveness of Johannesburg BRT. 

In 2011 commuters were left stranded as Re Ya Vaya bus drivers went on an eight-week long strike. People were forced to wake up hours before their normal time to catch more than one taxi to work or school.  Some had to go back to the humiliating Metrorail trains where commuters are always pressed against each other, standing in isles or even in between carriages.

In April 2013 commuters were again deserted after Re Ya Vaya bus drivers joined the nationwide bus drivers’ strike. By early 2013 Johannesburg was still experiencing delays in the implementation of phase 1b BRT system.  It is reported that dedicated trunk routes of 18, 5 km and 15 stations were still inoperative after being completed a year ago. This is mainly due to the battle over routes between taxi owners and BRT operators.

If A Re Yeng experiences the same mishaps as Re Ya Vaya, commuters who travel parts of the capital with no means of public transport will suffer.

The first phase of the system is currently underway and operation is due to begin April 2014.  Tshwane BRT comes as encouraging development. But, will A Re Yeng bus services be stable and dependable? Should Tshwane residents give a standing ovation to the BRT bus system? Maybe, the applause should be held back until the system has proven itself

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