Ekurhuleni’s disability-friendly BRT
Buses provide easy access for disabled commuters
HAVING to ask for assistance in using public transport has always been a challenge for an Ekurhuleni wheelchair-bound resident, Zanele Zwane.
Zwane was one of a group of people with disabilities who took part in a test run on the City of Ekurhuleni’s new bus rapid transit (BRT) Harambee buses last Wednesday.
The test run was to ensure that the buses met all the requirements, comfort and accessibility for people living with disabilities.
“It has always been a challenge to use public transport. I always dread asking people to assist me to get into a taxi or a bus.
“But these buses are a great relief to me and many others living with different types of disabilities because they are easily accessible and convenient to travel on,” she said.
The group drove along the dedicated routes in the first phase of the integrated rapid public transport network in Rev RTJ Namane Drive in Tembisa to test their readiness to accommodate wheelchair-bound, blind and deaf passengers.
Ekurhuleni’s mayoral committee member for transport and planning Petrus Mabunda led the event and the feedback session that followed in terms of the universal design-access plan, with guidelines and principles on how to cater for commuters living with disabilities.
The plan considered factors such as equal access for use of people with various conditions and disabilities, flexibility, simplicity, effective communication, the need to use minimal effort when accessing buses, and suitable space and size.
In March last year, the newly established Ekurhuleni bus operator KTVR signed a R842 million 11-year loan agreement with the Development Bank of Southern Africa to fund the purchases required for the first phase of the Harambee BRT project.
KTVR stands for the service that emanates from the Kempton/Tembisa/Vosloorus/ Reiger Park region.
The first phase has a 56km trunk route and 71.4km of complementary routes, with the main route running from Tembisa in the north via Kempton Park, OR Tambo International Airport and on to Boksburg and Vosloorus in the south.
The Harambee BRT system will connect the various towns and cities that make up Ekurhuleni, namely Benoni, Germiston, Springs, Kempton Park, Edenvale, Nigel, Brakpan, Boksburg and Alberton.
The project has the support of the taxi industry.
COMFORTABLE RIDE: Ekurhuleni’s mayoral committee member for transport and planning Petrus Mabunda assists Zanele Zwane out of the new BRT bus.
BIG IMPROVEMENT: Nonhlanhla Zwane and Nonhlanhla Sithole travel in the BRT bus, which is designed to simplify commuting for people living with disabilities.