New metro rail plan mooted

Bus sys­tems not prof­itable – Maimane

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - NEWS - Siyam­tanda Capa ca­pas@ti­soblack­star.co.za

THE DA be­lieves that to grow lo­cal economies, Metropoli­tan mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties should run their own rail­way trans­port sys­tems – a move they hope to pur­sue should they win the 2019 gen­eral elec­tions.

Party leader Mmusi Maimane laid out this vi­sion at the Frei­drich Nau­mann Stiftung Trans­port and mo­bil­ity sum­mit at Ib­hayi Town Lodge in Walmer last night.

Maimane said they would look into how cities could play a guid­ing and lead­ing role in eco­nomic growth through rec­ti­fy­ing the apartheid spa­tial plan­ning.

“As part of our eco­nomic vi­sion to de-con­cen­trate the econ­omy away from na­tional play­ers, why is it that we must main­tain the sta­tus of Prasa [the Pas­sen­ger Rail Agency of South Africa]?

“It is about time that met­ros were al­lowed to pro­vide pas­sen­ger rail sys­tems,” he said.

“Who elects Prasa? No­body does. We must be able to own the trans­port sys­tem be­cause peo­ple elect us.”

Maimane was ad­dress­ing del­e­gates who had at­tended the DA event dur­ing the day where is­sues such as the chal­lenges and suc­cesses of the bus rapid trans­port sys­tem in Tsh­wane and Cape Town were dis­cussed.

City of Cape Town trans­port and ur­ban de­vel­op­ment portfolio head Brett Her­ron warned that cities which planned to pro­ceed with an in­te­grated bus sys­tem would have to com­mit to the fi­nan­cial im­pli­ca­tions as the sys­tems mostly led to a loss.

“We were sold this model that the BRT would cover its own ex­penses, and what we had to do was re­place all the pub­lic trans­port in the foot­print.

“We had to build a trunk route and feeder ser­vices and re­place all the trans­port sys­tems so that you would get pas­sen­gers onto your buses.”

Her­ron said they had ini­tially been told the sys­tem would sus­tain it­self.

“We were promised that this thing could break even but there is just no way that in our life­time it’s go­ing to break even, be­cause you are go­ing to change the struc­ture of the city.

“You have to get on top of your fi­nances, cities have to com­mit, and know what they are com­mit­ting to in terms of fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tion.

“With less money avail­able to sup­port the BRT we now have a min­is­ter of trans­port who is say­ing he is not even sure that we should be do­ing the BRT in the first place.”

Po­lit­i­cal head for roads and trans­port in Tsh­wane Sheila Senkubuge ad­vised those in at­ten­dance to en­gage the taxi in­dus­try and even con­sider hav­ing them own the buses.

Port El­iz­a­beth mayor Athol Trol­lip slammed pub­lic trans­port in South Africa, call­ing it chaotic.

“Spa­tial apartheid re­al­i­ties make it very dif­fi­cult to have a proper trans­port sys­tem. It re­sults in a dis­pro­por­tion­ate amount of spend for the poor­est peo­ple who can af­ford the least on pub­lic trans­port,” he said.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: BRIAN WITBOOI

WARM WEL­COME: DA leader Mmusi Maimane ar­rives for his ad­dress at the Trans­port and Mo­bil­ity Sum­mit in Port El­iz­a­beth

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