Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rea Vaya follows suit with free rides, but theirs is for 3 days

As we have reported here, do not forget that Gautrain buses will be offering free rides tomorrow, 20th October 2010,  Wednesday to celebrate Car Free Day. If you happen to be in the CBD, you can also catch a free ride on the Rea Vaya on their Inner City Distribution. If you are a tourist around Johannesburg, do not forget to check all those tourist attractions points. 

Some long distance trains still not operating

Is it not a shame that PRASA and Transnet has not resolved their dispute as I reported here, and yet the same department responsible for one of the entity wants to introduce a fast train between Durban and Johannesburg. No wonder some people are against the Durban - Johannesburg project.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pretoria Bus Routes Maps Project still going well

Just an update on the above mentioned project as reported here, the project is going well but not as fast as I initially thought. However, October 31 is still our deadline. 

Visit the map below for an update;

View Pretoria/Tshwane  Bus Routes - Part of Mapping SA Cities' Public Transport Routes in a larger map

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gautrain giving free rides on Car Free Day

Gautrain is offering free rides on the 20th October 2010. This is part of their contribution to SA's Car Free Day where they will be encouraging car owners to leave their cars at home (and probably a marketing strategy for their half empty buses). This offers does not include a ride on their trains. Sorry.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Old Park Stations - From a fellow blogger

I have a friend who posts pictures of Johannesburg whenever he could. His blog is Johannesburg Daily Photos and if you hate reading long posts like mine, his are short and you may enjoy them. Check one of his posts. 

Don't you think the old Park station is cool?

Old Park Station...

Some of the the most adorable structures that can be found in Johannesburg and that is the structure that used to serve as Johannesburg's Park Station. It is said that Johannesburg Housing Company is the owner of the site and the structure and there are plans to building low cost houses were the structure is, I hope all these is not the truth.

If I had my way, I would like to see the structure being turned into 
Green House were plants and vegies are grown. I would encourage people with HIV/AIDS to come work there for a small fee. I would include a waterfall and encorporate statues dedicated to victims of HIV and AIDS. I would turn part of the empty space next to the green house to saturday and/or sunday morning markets for flowers and vegetables. I would then make sure that the place is bright and glowing at night use green energy and lights.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Road agency closer to introducing toll roads

The day that will make some South African car users residing in Gauteng not to remember is getting closer. That day will be when SANRAL finally start charging each car owner who chooses to make use of their national roads (see map below). That day is somewhere in the second quarter of 2011.

View New Roads to be Tolled and Alternative Routes in a larger map

For those (including me) who argued that there will be an exodus of traffic to secondary roads as a result of the new Toll Road, here is what SANRAL had to say;

Van Niekerk - (Project Manager - GFIP ) noted that he did not believe that there would be an exodus to secondary roads once tolling was implemented, as there was “no magic alternative available to the road network”. Also, commuters tended to divert from new toll roads initially, but then always returned to the ease afforded by travelling on a toll road.

And the concern that the toll fees to be paid will increase transport costs?

The agency believed that “at least 50%” of users on the 185 km of upgraded highways would spend less than R350 a month on toll fees. Also, only 1% to 2% of users would pay more than R1 000 a month. CEO of SANRAL Nazir Alli denied that the toll roads will increase the cost on transport. Instead, he asserted, the agency will reduce the costs of transport by providing good quality roads.

How much of the other 47% of users will pay is unknown.....

How much will it cost per kilometer?

The final toll fee structure should be available for public consumption before the end of the year.

Any discounts?

Yes. Frequent users/Public Transport Operators and those who use the road off peak hours will get discounts but this information will be available soon.

How much will the tag be and who will carry the cost?

The cost of the tag is not known yet but the vehicle owners will carry the costs of the tag while SANRAL will be responsible for installing the technology to read them.

What if you don't stay in Gauteng?

According to the Arrive Alive web site - "Road signs will warn visitors to Gauteng to phone or visit the Customer Care centre to register or to obtain a Day Pass. Should a road user make use of the network without registering, they will receive an invoice and be given a set time to pay the toll fees. Should the toll fees not be paid within the set period, additional debt collection and enforcement actions will take place."






N.B These interviews answers where taken from the articles sourced. The author did not interview the respondents.

Tax on Vehicle Miles Traveled Gains Support, but Raises Orwellian Questions - SA's DOT plans something similar

The good thing about having a Google alert is that you also get to see stories that you never intended to receive in the first place. I just came across such a story, that of Tax on Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) which is being proposed in the USA and some European countries - a tax charged to motorists based on the kilometers traveled instead of the fuel consumed by the vehicle. Its an interesting topic that its supporters think will solve the problem of depleting revenue from fuel tax. For those criticizing the plan, points that this depleting tax revenue are as a result of increased fuel efficient vehicles and the VMT will encourage more people to drive vehicles that emit more pollution as put by a columnist Glenn Reynolds;

"Gas taxes are a pretty good proxy for road usage -- the more you drive, the more gas you burn -- and there's a bonus: Gas taxes encourage people to use less gas. ... A mileage tax, presumably, doesn't care whether you're driving a Prius or a Hummer, giving no incentive to save."

To address the concerns mentioned below, a final report by the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission said new technologies could allow for a mileage gas tax that would take into account the type of vehicle and level of emissions. Such programs of that type are being developed in other countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, the report said (1).

Here at home, the National Transport Master Plan 2050 (NATMAP), through its FILM (Finance, Institutional, Legal and Management) of which I was lucky enough to be part of suggest we follow something similar here in SA;

“Within 5 years to develop a revenue collection design, funded through user pay methods, acceptable and visible to the public, that ensures a flow of revenue sufficient to annually maintain, preserve and improve highway and road system” - Page 31

It goes further and says;

Internationally, traffic congestion is costing countries a lot. On the other hand high international fuel prices increase pressure on fuel levies as an acceptable source for infrastructure spending. It is therefore time to move towards “Variable User Charging” (VUC) to capture externalities like congestion, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and safety.

Once the NATMAP bill becomes an Act, we may as well start preparing ourselves for tax based on how you drive and not how much fuel you consume. How that will be done may not necessarily follow what is being proposed in the NATMAP but how its going to be implemented is something interesting to watch.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

SAA scraps Durban - Cape Town route

This is not one of those jokes you get on April 1...this is true as it gets. SAA, the South African national carrier is to scrap its Durban to Cape Town routes from November 1st. If you are obsessed with SAA and you find yourself in Durban wanting to go to Cape Town or vice versa, you can make use of the Mango low cost airline as SAA is going to ask its customers to make use of the low cost carrier. Why is this the case? Eye Witness reports that its because the airline would like to save some costs on this routes as the route has become so cost competitive. The fleet is to be used for its expansion of SA - China route.

This in all is good for the other small carriers that competed with SAA on this routes. With some customers who were used to SAA's now not going to enjoy the same superior service on Mango, other carriers can snatch these customers - especially those who paid from their own pockets. It could also be good for the customers too....perhaps the number of customers increasing on Mango can make them more competitive, decreasing their prices which will force other operators to reduce theirs.

Currently, the operators in this route are as follows (including SAA);

Airlines operating flights from Durban to Cape Town

1time Airlines

Durban (DBN) to Cape Town International Airport (CPT)


British Airways

Durban (DBN) to Cape Town International Airport (CPT)


Kulula Air

Durban (DBN) to Cape Town International Airport (CPT)


Mango Airlines

Durban (DBN) to Cape Town International Airport (CPT)


South African Airways

Durban (DBN) to Cape Town International Airport (CPT)


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

CoT looking for a BRT Project Leader

You may be aware that the City of Tshwane is still yet to implement its Phase 1 BRT project (please see slide number 7 and 8 on the presentation below). They are now looking for the Project Leader who will be responsible for the implementation o the project among others. If you would like to join the City in their BRT division, here is your chance. You can apply here. The application closes on the 19/10/2010, time not specified.

Aarto next year, promise road authorities

If it is to be believed, the much awaited (well not by everyone) AARTO system will be implemented next year while the demerit point (part of AARTO) will be announced early next year. With South African roads being the most dangerous in the world, we certainly need this demerit point. However, this can only be of use if South Africans start reporting police officers who bribes and vice versa. Also, our licensing departments need to get rid of its inefficiencies so that we don't end up with more people queuing to obtain licenses.

Human Transit News: On bus lanes, britain can learn from los angeles

The bus lane on the M4 motorway into London is under attack by the new Conservative/LDP government. Some HT readers wonder if this is a fatal flaw of all forms of BRT that rely on highway bus lanes. The BBC tells the story:

[The M4 lane] lets buses, coaches, licensed black taxis and motorcycles speed towards London, while the rest of the motorway’s vehicles often ended up crawling, especially at peak times. However, 11 years later it has been revealed that Transport Secretary Philip Hammond will announce on Monday that the bus lane is to be scrapped….

The [Automobile Association]’s Andrew Howard says: “We are very pleased to see this development, as we have campaigned against the bus lane from the very beginning. “It is always aggravating to sit in a traffic jam beside a bus lane that has nothing in it, and that is the situation on the M4.” The RAC Foundation was equally pleased, saying that scrapping the bus lane was a good idea because it was “so underused”. RAC Foundation director Stephen Glaister adds: “Most drivers on the M4 will wonder why this decision has taken so long.”…

M4But if the BBC's photo is any indication, the bus lane is working just right. Even the one bus in the image is clearly carrying more people than an entire lane of traffic in the image, so it's well worth the space it's taking. And yes, a properly functioning bus lane looks empty most of the time if you're sitting right next to it in a stopped car. The BBC goes on:

Despite the political row, the AA's Andrew Howard admits that the removal of the bus lane may not ultimately change much. He explains: "When the bus lane ends, the M4 then reduces to two lanes for an elevated section. "So you are still going to see big queues going into London - getting rid of the bus lane will simply move them 3.5 miles to the east."

As one HT reader laments:

Bus/HOV lanes embody an inherent dilemma. If they are functioning properly, they appear empty or unused compared to the congested general purpose lanes, even if they are carrying far more people/hour, and may even be aiding SOV [single-occupant vehicle] traffic.

It is too easy for populist politicians to appeal to motorists by opening bus/HOV [high occupant vehicle] lanes to SOV traffic, and that is apparently what is happening in London.

Yes, indeed. I hate to say it, but the Brits need to put their well-honed fascination with Los Angeles to work, because the El Monte Transitway on Interstate 10 was the site of a similar mistake in 2000. There, too, buses and carpools seemed to fly past stopped traffic, so that drivers of the stopped cars had lots of time to gaze at the asphalt of the bus-carpool lane, contemplating how empty it looked. There, too, it was tempting for a naive politican to try to score some votes by appealing to these disgruntled single motorists. Wikipedia:

In 1999, then state senator Hilda Solis authored a bill, Senate Bill 63, to drop the carpool definition from three occupants to two, which passed both the state Assembly and Senate and was signed by Governor Gray Davis on July 12, 1999. The bill was opposed by both Caltrans and Foothill Transit, as well as the Southern California Transit Advocates, a transit users' organization. It received support from many cities hoping that carpool rates would increase. SB 63 went into effect on January 1, 2000. As a compromise, the bill was designated an experiment which would sunset in 24 months.

In fact, the actual number of people moved on the busway dropped, meaning that the lowered requirements did not attract new carpoolers. Instead, many carpoolers previously forced to triple up moved to two-person carpools, which increased the vehicle volume on the roadway and consequently resulted in severe congestion. As a result of the congestion, many individuals abandoned carpooling and decided to drive alone. Speeds on the busway dropped markedly from 65 mph (105 km/h) before the experiment to 20 mph (32 km/h) during the experiment, where speeds in the regular lanes did not change significantly (as a result of 2 person carpoolers moving to the busway), and actually dropped from 25 mph (40 km/h) to 23 mph (37 km/h), paradoxically making the busway slower than the regular lanes. Accident rates on the busway increased significantly from zero in the six months before the experiment to five during the experiment. Travel times along the busway increased by 20–30 minutes in each direction, generating over 1,000 complaints to government agencies, and requiring Foothill Transit to hire more drivers and stage more buses to provide busway service.

As a result of public outrage, Assembly Bill 769 was passed in July 2000 that was an emergency measure to terminate the experiment during peak hours. ... Hilda Solis ... did vote for AB 769, effectively admitting that her idea was a failure.

Yes, from behind the wheel of your stopped single-occupant car, a well-functioning bus lane looks empty most of the time. But at high-demand times, bus lanes easily move far more people than traffic lanes. The question is: do all the users of the road matter equally? If so, it should be a no-brainer to provide faster travel times to people who use limited capacity more efficiently. That's what bus (and HOV) lanes do.