Tuesday, July 20, 2010

MyCiti Bus Inner City Distribution Axed: What does this say about our city's transport system?

What does it says about a city when its bus system does not attract enough passengers? First it was Rea Vaya when they canned their inner city distribution system back in November 2009 due to "poor patronage" as commuters preferred to walk. Now, MyCiti buses in Cape Town will no longer be operating in the inner city, their reason.....the service was only part of the world cup (enews) while Long Walk Since Freedom website reports that the inner service did not prove as popular with locals as had been anticipated.

Now, to go back to the question that I posed earlier on I think the answers lies in the way in which our cities are planned and most importantly the way in which the transport plans were rushed to be implemented. If you look at the Johannesburg trunk route for instance, the plan was to move spectators during the FIFA world cup between Johannesburg Ellis Park and the Soccer City. The planners also seemed to have bitten two birds with one rock when they added Soweto which made sense because the township has one the highest number of people going to the CBD everyday. But....here is how they failed: they forgot to put stations next to major taxi ranks at the CBD. Why should they do that.....you ask....because most passengers from Soweto (and like any other area) go through the city because they connect with other modes of transport there, so building BRT stops near these stops would have made sense.

Before I can continue any further I must warn you that I do not know Cape Town CBD well.....so I will base most (if not all) my reasoning by the experience I have about Johannesburg. Here are some of the reasons why I think the CBD distribution system is not being successful;
  • The inner distribution not only compete with other modes of transport but they hardly complement each other - most taxis do not distribute passengers around the city and Rea Vaya does not take that advantage and their stops are far away from the taxi and other public transport stops (e.g. Metro Rail Stations);
  • The CBD does not have good image - people are afraid in the Johannesburg's CBD because they do not feel safe. This unsafeness pushes away potential ridership.
  • Lack of marketing - marketing of the brand is not a continuing initiative;
  • One of the reasons why the trunk route is famous is because most people in the CBD are there for work only and not so many people stay within the city to warrant inner trips and where most people stay (e.g. Berea, Hillbrow) Rea Vaya do not operate

These are my reasons folks, what do you think?

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