Ekurhu­leni’s dis­abil­ity-friendly BRT

Buses pro­vide easy ac­cess for dis­abled com­muters

The Star Late Edition - - NEWS - ANNA COX anna.cox@inl.co.za

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.

@an­na­cox

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.

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