- Automakers are incensed that the tax will apply to bakkies, claiming it will make South Africa the first country in the world to do this. The reason is that clearly defined standard to measure CO2 emissions by bakkies did not exist.
- National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) though it accepts in principle, argues that the tax will push vehicle prices up by about 2%, and that this additional tax burden amounts to about R1,2-billion a year, based on 2010 projected new car sales (The national treasury estimates the tax will net R450-million in the financial year 2010/11)
- Absent of legislation and incentivising of the introduction of Euro IV enabling 'green' fuel in South Africa;
- Fears in the did not contradict its second industrial policy action plan;
- Concerns that the tax may not be used to promote green technology but to serve as another means of revenue source.
Friday, July 30, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Yesterday The Star reported that if anyone at the Road Traffic Management Corporation is fingered for corruption (one wonders if the report he just received did not) we face the music. We know that the CEO among others approved salary increases in excess of approved limits as reported here. Other allegations include;
- Spending R4.5-million on provincial workshops, when only R1.5-million had been budgeted for the purpose
- Entering into a 10-year R658-million lease for nine office blocks, only two of which are currently being used for a staff component of 144
- Blowing R1.3-million of RTMC funds for the hire of private suites at Ellis Park and Loftus Versfeld during the Confederations Cup
- The purchase by the CEO of a Audi A4 for personal use, using RTMC funds, despite receiving a hefty car allowance
hree are subsidiaries of SAA. The question is will be be fired on these positions?
hree are subsidiaries of SAA. The question is will be be fired on these positions?
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
For Urban Planners in Johannesburg or in any major cities in South Africa, take note. This article here that appeared on Human Transit is relevant for the South African major cities. We have been singing about integration for a while now....what is needed is ACTION, which we seems to be lacking. I was disappointed when the Gautrain and its buses (which is the latest project) was never forced to be integrated with the current existing public transport.
Other difficulties that were mentioned in this report that is similar to challenges we are facing at home is competing modes of public transport. We can not continue to have this especially when subsidies amounts are decreasing year after year, in real terms.
For the last four months, I've been part of a team looking at the big-picture problems of public transport in Sydney, sponsored but not controlled by the city's main newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald. We released the draft report today, so I can finally talk about it.
Transport has been an area of controversy in Sydney for years. The state government (which is responsible for most planning and infrastructure) has developed a pattern of announcing major rail projects only to cancel them a year or two later, leaving the impression that there is no big-picture strategy or integrated plan. Sydney also suffers from a lack of co-ordination among different transit providers. Plenty of people work on planning better buses, or better ferries, or better trains, but not many people are responsible for planning a single transit system where all these services work together, nor do they have the power to make it happen.
The public transport task in Sydney is huge. The metro population is around 4.4 million and headed for 6 million in 30 years, so a difficult density-vs-sprawl debate is ongoing. Sydney has an exceptionally dense Central Business Disrict (CBD), where more than 70% of workers currently arrive on public transit. This doesn't mean transit is wonderful, only that driving is worse. All-day parking in the city can cost over$60/day.
When it comes to public transit, Sydney seems stuck. Over the last decade, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth have seen dramatic ridership growth, but Sydney's has been flat, and the public view of Sydney's current transit offering is decidedly negative. Public transit in Sydney is seen as an unfortunate necessity, not as a positive feature of a vibrant global city.
Our project was led by Ron Christie, a former Coordinator General for Rail and former head of the Roads and Traffic Authority, who will always be remembered as the successful director of transport services for Sydney's 2000 Olympic Games. Ron convened a diverse group of academics, consultants, and retired public servants to conduct the inquiry, and the draft report -- almost 500 riveting pages -- has now landed firmly in the public domain, with a large splash in the weekend Herald and local television coverage on Saturday. The report, or any chapter, can be downloaded here.
Readers in other parts of the world may be shocked at the obviousness of what we recommend, because most of it consists of best practices that cities all over the world are following, but where Sydney has fallen behind:
- Public Transport over Roads. The Inquiry finds that the Government's recent priority on increasing road capacity into the City makes little sense, either technically or politically. Technically, increased road capacity simply delivers private cars into the city faster than the city streets can absorb them. More remarkably, the public understands this, and is ready to halt major road investment. The Inquiry included a statistically valid public survey of 2400 residents, conducted through the University of Technology at Sydney, finding overwhelming support for public transport rather than roads as the main investment priority.
- Governance. (Chapter 6) Public transit, we argue, needs to be run by a public transit agency with a bit of distance from the daily to-and-fro of state government, and with control over all the key pieces of the puzzle, including fare policy, network planning, quality control, infrastructure investment. We suggest calling this agency Transport for Sydney, in honor of the Transport for London model.
- Fare Integration. (Chapter 3) Sydney is one of few developed-world cities that charges a new full-fare every time you make a connection. This has prevented the design of simple, frequent services that could form a versatile network. Instead, we have bus lines that duplicate train lines, too many buses crowding into the CBD, and not enough crosstown or orbital services into the many other employment and activity centers around greater Sydney.
- Major Rail Investment Priorities. (Chapter 2) Government in the last three years has become enamored with the driverless metro, similar to Vancouver's Skytrain. Unfortunately, proposals for this excellent technology have come into conflict with the need to protect and enhance the extensive rail system that already exists: an electrified commuter rail network, with extensive subway stations in the CBD, that could itself become more like a metro if it were managed to deliver higher all-day frequencies. Much of the hard work of the Inquiry has been in taking apart the "metro" idea, identifying all the ways that the existing rail system can do the same thing, and thus determining where entirely new metro lines really do make sense.
- Short Term and Continuous Improvement. The inquiry devotes Chapter 4 to all the little things that can be done now, or soon, to make things better, including rail frequency increases, bus restructuring, new information systems, and a range of other low-cost changes that would transform transit's usefulness even as the city waits for the big rail investments to come.
- Finance. (Chapter 5). Finally, we know how to pay for it all. The public survey explored in detail the public's willingness to pay new taxes and user fees, including household levies, fares, CBD congestion charges, and carbon taxes on petrol (fuel). Finance experts from Allen Consulting laid out a financial plan showing how these sources, at levels that got majority support in the survey, could add up to the total cost of capital, operations, and financing for the 30-year program of transit improvements.
I did much of writing in the chapters on fare integration and short term improvement, and took the lead on bus network planning, but the entire Inquiry represents both Ron's view and the result of spirited debate within the group.
Sooner or later, some state government is going to implement most of these recommendations, because they are in line with what most similar cities around the world have found they need to do. Even here in Australia, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth all have integrated fares, and Brisbane and Perth also have the semi-autonomous urban transit agency that we recommend.
Obviously, there's a lot here, and I hope Sydney's many opinion leaders will take the time to digest it. Sydney has seen a lot of grand plans, but this one is unusual in the level of effort, the sponsorship of a major newspaper, and the detailed research about the public's willingness to pay. It might lead somewhere. I hope it helps someone get home.
This Sunday I had a great time with my wife and my sister's family at the annual Discovery Radio 702 Walk the Talk at Emmarentia. What I love about this event is that one is able to spend a quality time with family while having fun and exercising. In addition to that, through one's participation one is able to offer disadvantaged children an opportunity to be someone through some monies that goes to the charity. Because the event is open for everyone, some companies enter as a team and this gives them a chance to market themselves.
Monday, July 26, 2010
An interesting discussion about congestion is happening here and I thought you may be interested.
Now and then, someone mentions that a particular transit project did not reduce traffic congestion, as though that was evidence of failure. Years ago, politicians and transit agencies would sometimes say that a transit project would reduce congestion, though most are now smart enough not to make that claim.
To my knowledge, and correct me if I'm wrong, no transit project or service has ever been the clear direct cause of a substantial drop in traffic congestion. So claiming that a project you favor will reduce congestion is unwise; the data just don't support that claim.
To my knowledge, and again correct me if I'm wrong, there are exactly three ways for a city to reduce its traffic congestion measurably, quickly, and in a lasting way. (Widening roads is not one of these ways, because its benefit to traffic congestion is temporary unless new development in the road's catchment is completely and permanently banned.)
- Economic collapse. Traffic congestion tends to drop during economic slowdowns, because fewer people have jobs to commute to, or money to spend on discretionary travel. A complete economic collapse, which causes people to move away from a city in droves, is always a lasting fix for congestion problems!
- Reduction of road capacity. Ever since the demise of San Francisco's Embarcadero Freeway, it's been pretty clear that if you reduce road capacity for private vehicles, traffic will drop in response. Destroying the Embarcadero Freeway didn't reduce congestion on the parallel surface streets, but it didn't increase it much either. If you reduce road capacity, the remaining capacity is still congested, but this can still be called a reduction in congestion -- especially if you use standard highway metrics like "lane miles of congested roadway."
- Correct pricing of road space. Congestion is the result of underpricing. If you give away 500 free concert tickets to the first 500 people in line, you'll get 500 people standing in line, some of them overnight. These people are paying time to save money. Current prevailing road pricing policy requires all motorists to act like these frugal concertgoers. Motorists are required to pay for road use in time, rather than in money, even though some would rather do the opposite and our cities would be safer and more efficient if they could. Current road pricing policy requires motorists to save money, a renewable resource, by expending time, the least renewable resource of all.
So if transit isn't a cause of reduced congestion, what is its role? Do transit advocates offer nothing in response to congestion problems that have many voters upset? In fact, transit's role is essential, but its effect is indirect.
- Transit raises the level of economic activity and prosperity at a fixed level of congestion. Congestion appears to reach equilibrium at a level that is maddeningly high but that can't be called "total gridlock." At that level, people just stop trying to travel. If your city is car-dependent, that limit becomes the cap on the economic activity -- and thus the prosperity -- of your city. To the extent that your city is dependent on transit, supported by walking and cycling, economic activity and prosperity can continue to grow while congestion remains constant.
- Transit enables people who can't drive to participate in economic life. This includes the disabled and seniors of course, but also the poor. During the US welfare reform debate in 1994-96, government began raising pressure on welfare recipients to seek and accept any employment opportunity. For the very poor living in car-dependent cities, the lack of commuting options became a profound barrier to these job placements. This is really an element of the previous point, since all employment, even of the poor, contributes to prosperity. But this has independent force for government because unemployed people consume more government services than employed people do. This benefit of transit should always be described in terms of economic efficiency, as I've done here, rather than appealing to pity or to alleged "economic rights," as social-service language often implicitly does. The appeal of the social service argument is just too narrow, especially in the US.
- Transit-dependent cities are generally more sustainable than car-dependent cities. They cover less land and tend to have fewer emissions both per capita and per distance travelled. The walking that they require is also better for public health, which produces further indirect economic benefits in reduced healthcare costs.
- Intense transit service is essential for congestion pricing. Congestion pricing appears to be the only effective and durable tool for ensuring free-flowing roads while maintaining or growing prosperity. Congestion pricing always causes mode shift toward public transit, so quality public transit, with surplus capacity, must be there for a pricing plan to be credible.
- Surface exclusive transit lanes (for buses, rail, and arguably two-wheelers and taxis) improve the performance of emergency services. This argument should be much more prominent, because even the most ardent car-lover will understand it. Few things are more distressing than to see an emergency vehicle stuck in traffic, sirens blaring. When confronted with this, all motorists do their best to help. But if the entire width of a street or highway is reserved for cars (moving or parked), and is therefore capable of being congested, it can be impossible to get out of the way of an emergency vehicle even if every motorist present has the best of intentions. Emergency response should be one of the strongest and most obvious cases for surface transit lanes. Motorists understand the need to drop to a low speed in school zones, to protect the life of every single child. Why do we not accept come degree of delay to save a child who may be dying somewhere else, because the ambulance is stuck in traffic?
As far as possible, please present your comments as proposed amendments or additions to what I've written here. I would like to polish my own view on this fundamental question, with the benefit of your thoughts.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
- An unauthorised bonuses for executives worth R27-million;
- R3,3-million that Ngqula had allegedly spent on hiring hospitality suites in various sports stadiums; and
- At least R500 000 for free trips that Ngqula had allegedly granted to personal friends.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Bombela gives answers, after a Community member asks if Gautrain saves you time, money?
I have some concerns regarding the Gautrain.
Firstly regarding the weekly and monthly passes for the Gautrain...which I believe to be virtually useless. A monthly pass is only valid for one calendar month, and has 70 one way trips...thus 35 return trips to a single station...obviously meant to be for commuting to work. Now, I work from Mondays to Fridays, as most commuters/people do. Thus only, on average, will I need 21 return trips per month (21 week days per calendar month). Why would I want to go to the station my work is closest to on Saturdays and Sundays? Thus 14 return trips are totally useless and a waste of money as they fall over weekends.
Same goes for the weekly pass. Again, you need to use the weekly pass in seven consecutive days. Thus Monday to Sunday. Why on Earth would I want to go to work on Saturdays and Sundays? I mean seriously...who researched these options?
Then also, they say the Gautrain is cheaper than the actual cost of a private car. I saw how they calculate that...petrol + maintenance + insurance...insurance??? Are they assuming because I am using the Gautrain, I no longer need to pay insurance on my car? Do they believe I am going to sell my car because I can take the train to work every weekday? This makes absolutely NO sense.
On Monday, June 14 2010, I also took the bus to Sandton station to test how long it would take. It took me a ten minute walk to reach a bus station, climb up at the corner of Wessels and 12th Ave, and it took 20 minutes to reach the station. Assuming the train takes 30 minutes to get from Sandton station to Centurion (My commute would be from Centurion to Sandton Station), then another 20 minute bus trip to get from Centurion station to the corner of Hendrik Verwoerd and Rooihuiskraal (Where I believe the bus will drop me closest to my home) and then another ten minute walk...this adds up to roughly a total of 1 hour and 30 minutes to get home from work. To drive, from my work, to my home takes at most 1 hour.
Also, a diesel car makes it even cheaper to travel by private car. Thus, the Gautrain is more expensive (by far) than a diesel car + petrol (diesel of course) and the coming toll gates (I refuse to incorporate insurance to this calculation as it makes no sense) AND on top of that...it is 30 minutes slower. The new wide highways makes sure of that fact...it's bliss driving home and to work with the new highway lanes!
Now I ask people with tears in my eyes...WHY would I pay more for a longer trip from Centurion to Rivonia?
Answer: Julia Keevy, technical analyst at Bombela
With regards to the fare structures, they have been designed by the Gauteng provincial government with the concessionaire in accordance with the contract and financial model. There is a fares review committee, which reviews the fare structures and fees on an ongoing basis. If changes are made, they will be released to the media. Thank you for feedback, your sentiments have been forwarded to the relevant parties.
Please note the fares have been designed taking into account international best practice, most transport systems around the world within a weekly (seven day) pass or a calendar month pass. Hence we have attempted to follow these best practice standards.