Improving Commuter Productivity in the Cape

April 7, 2016
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Traffic congestion in Cape Town is the highest in South Africa according to TomTom, and with Metrorail’s challenges from cable theft and vandalism, commuters can spend almost double their travel time during peak hours. Adding to this is the complexity that Cape Town’s population is growing at 2 – 3% every year, and public transport is managed by multiple stakeholders. To address these transport issues, Accelerate Cape Town, together with Wesgro, hosted a business breakfast on Improving Commuter Productivity in the Cape with MEC Donald Grant, MEC Alan Winde and Cllr Brett Herron from the City of Cape Town.

MEC for Transport and Public Works, Donald Grant, opened the event and highlighted that if we don’t solve our transport and commuting problem, that we will not leverage the economic opportunities within the Province. Some of the issues that Minister Grant raised were that:

  • 95% of public transport users in Cape Town are in the low and lower-middle income group
  • Private car trips to the CBD still outnumber public transport and non-motorised transport trips by 61% to 39%
  • Peak hours have increased from 2 to 4 hours i.e. from between 7:00 to 09:00 (2 hours) to the current 06:00 to 10:00 (4 hours).

His presentation focused on the issues of rail transport and the reality that the existing asset base needs to be stabilised and become efficient, reliable and safe. WC Government has a mandate with regards to rail and by working with PRASA and supporting their Strategic Plan for the Western Cape, WC Government will focus on halting service decline and restoring passenger numbers in the Western Cape Metropolis, ensuring greater connectivity with regional municipalities such as Saldanha and reducing the rate of crime on Metrorail lines.

Brett Herron highlighted the findings of the Transport Development Index which surveyed 18 zones and 4 income groups in Cape Town. The most alarming findings were that 95% of commuters making use of public transport fall within the low and low-middle income groups and that the low income group spends on average R45 out of every R100 of their monthly household income on transport. Internationally accepted norms are between 5 – 10%. He also highlighted:

  • Plans for the Integrated Public Transport Network including the launch of the Blue Downs – Khayelitsha – Bellville rail route in the next 5 years and the launching of 10 additional MyCiTi trunk routes within the next 17 years
  • Transport Oriented Development has been approved by Council which means both developing economic hubs closer to where the population live and developing mixed residential closer to the CBD
  • Road congestion – the City of Cape Town has committed R750 million to road infrastructure over the next five years, focusing on Kuils River, Kommetjie and Blaauwberg as the main congestion points in the city.

Both Minister Winde and Ryan Ravens, our CEO, had a short slot to respond on what future solutions need to be considered and for business to highlight their main concerns regarding travel congestion and issues. Accelerate Cape Town is now planning a follow-up event to look at potential operational, infrastructure and behavioural solutions for both business and government to consider to ensure that our transport congestion does not become an inhibitor for our economic growth.

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