Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How Gauteng's toll roads will work - 2010/11/09

The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) is set to implement its open-road tolling system in April next year, and the cost structure has come under the spotlight -- how exactly hidden costs will be passed on to the consumer.

The routes that will be affected are the N1 from Pretoria, the R24 to the R21 to Pretoria and Johannesburg's ring roads on the Randburg and Alberton routes. There will be 185km of toll infrastructure in total.

Nazir Alli, the CEO of Sanral, says that high traffic volumes (between 100 000 and 200 000 vehicles a day) make a conventional toll impractical, so the best way to monitor and control payment is by means of electronic toll technology. This will be the biggest implementation of its kind in the world.

As far as we know, Sanral's base rate per kilometre for light vehicles, with or without a trailer, will be 50c per kilometre before discounts. This still has to be ratified by the minister of transport, and the figure of 65c per kilometre has been bandied about, but the final figure has not been arrived at just yet.

According to Tony Twine of Econometrix, this "50c per kilometre" is such a vague base figure as to be almost meaningless. How has this figure been arrived at and how will proposed discounts for more frequent road users be calculated?

Theoretically, if you travel 500km a month and you don't qualify for a discount, you will pay R250 a month for the privilege of using the national road.

According to Gary Ronald, head of public affairs at the Automobile Association (AA), the average, office-bound motorist simply doesn't have the disposable income to afford this every month. Many road users will try to find alternative routes to avoid the tolls, and Ronald believes that, because the existing road infrastructure is already past capacity, this will not help -- either in terms of time management, or impact on the environment.

For example, people living in the Fourways area who would normally take the highway into the Jo'burg CBD could now start commuting along William Nicol, which already turns into a parking lot at peak times.

Remember, too, that company car benefits are changing from next year, so we're already looking at reduced company car benefits for motorists. These tolls will only add more financial pressure.

Fiona Zerbst

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

canberra: a new circulator network for the national core

canberra: a new circulator network for the national core

Washington DC has its downtown circulator, and now the Washington DC of Australia, Canberra, has one too. What's more, my clients in Canberra created their circulator for almost zero in new operating costs, using an old trick of mine. Starting next week, four color-coded lines will provide frequent links among all the major toursit attractions, government buildings, commercial districts, and interchange points in the core area of the Australian capital.
Parl triangle full
For the whole brochure on the circulator, click here: PDF
Where did all this new service come from? Most of it was already there, but was presented as a tangle of several infrequent lines.  These were just too hard to figure out for someone making quick trips around the core.  Short trips are very time-sensitive, and that includes the time it takes to figure them out.  So circulators have to be frequent and simple.
For several years, Canberra has been discussing options for creating a shuttle system to link these core destinations. Instead, I suggested that we look at whether bus service that's already there could be branded to form legible and frequent circulator lines.  It turned out to be possible, with only slight service additions and some careful revision of timetables.
The Gold Line and Green Line are each created out of a pair of existing routes that are every 30 minutes when separate but every 20 minutes or better when running on top of each other.   When they're separate, they're just Routes 2, 3, 4, and 5, each doing its own business. But when Route 2 and 3 are together, that common segment is branded as the Gold Line. Likewise, the segment where 4 and 5 are on top of each other will be called the Green Line.
Signage and new marketing will highlight that you can use these colored lines to circulate around the core, and you simply don't have to care what the line numbers are. People don't have to remember that to get from the City station to the National Library they need the 2 or the 3. Instead, they can just remember the Gold Line.
At the same time, Canberra is re-branding the two existing Rapid bus corridors as the Blue Rapid and Red Rapid. The Red Rapid happens to be one simple line with no variants, but the Blue Rapid is formed of several overlaid lines, all numbered in the 300s, that do different things on outer branches but all run along the same Rapid segment linking several major town centers. Together, the Red and Blue Rapids will form the rapid-transit backbone of Canberra's all-bus network. As it happens, they also link some useful dots within the core area, so they're on the map as well. 
DSCN1225This branding technique is often useful in relatively small cities that have a few strong frequent corridors.  I first suggested it in Bellingham, Washington, a university town north of Seattle, and this shelter displays one of the results.   
Often in small cities, these frequent segments are served by several different routes overlaid, but the pile of route numbers makes the service seem complex.  The color brands let people ignore that complexity and see the frequency clearly instead.  And since frequency is the foundation of freedom for transit riders, it should always be made as visible as possible!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Big Brother Update

Friends, here is the update.

View Big Brother in a larger map

Johannesburg Metro Police in Shambles

You should be worried when your most trusted men are so corrupt. Perhaps, Pig spotter is correct to call them pigs and to alert citizens about their wherebouts.

Read below;

MORE than 10 percent, or 476, of the Joburg metro police department’s (JMPD) staff complement have been investigated internally in the past year for allegations ranging from theft to bribery, assault and misconduct.
But, of the 476 metro police officers probed by the service’s internal affairs unit, less than 4 percent – or a mere 19 officers – were dismissed.
The disclosure by the City of Joburg policing service’s management follows exposés by The Star and its sister paper, the Saturday Star, into what seems to amount to criminal conduct and abuses by JMPD officers. The cases were reported in the JMPD’s latest annual report.
There are currently 4 326 JMPD staffers employed in the city.
Of the 476 cases investigated, the majority of the allegations against the officers were of “unbecoming behaviour” (373 cases) and 20 cases of corruption and assault.
The figures indicate that 205 of the cases had been resolved without the need for a disciplinary hearing. About 30 percent, or 149, of the cases initially laid with the JMPD were unsubstantiated when investigated further, and at least 10 cases were withdrawn.
Of 43 officers who had gone through disciplinary procedures, 19 had been dismissed, charges against 12 had been withdrawn and four officers had been found not guilty. The remaining eight officers had received written warnings or an unpaid suspension ranging from two to 10 days.
The offences covered in the annual report range from fraud to bribery, theft, assault, unbecoming conduct, going Awol, insubordination and damage to council property.
The annual report covers the period from July last year to June this year.
The Star reported this week that, according to JMPD chief Chris Ngcobo, at least 20 percent of the force was corrupt.
Ngcobo’s acknowledgement came just weeks after his internal affairs director, Abel Nkosi, reported to the council that at least 116 officers had been investigated internally between April and June this year.
The Star also reported that in the past year, the police’s internal complaints directorate had investigated nine cases of bribery, corruption, fraud, theft, assault and misconduct against the officers.
At the weekend, the Saturday Star reported how, about a month ago, members of the internal affairs division had handed a motorist a R4 000 bribe to drop corruption charges against a senior metro police officer.
The motorist had gone to the JMPD’s Loveday Street offices in the Joburg CBD to complain formally about being forced to pay a R700 bribe to an officer at a roadblock – a conversation which he had recorded. The officers had then tried to make the case go away.
At a media briefing yesterday, Ngcobo stressed that corruption did not involve only officers.
“Around 90 percent of the corruption comes from the community. We want to challenge the public to refuse to do the wrong thing.”
Ngcobo touched on the case involving 47 metro police officers who had shot at police during a wage protest on the M2 in 2008.
Following reports that nothing had happened, Ngcobo said that was not true. “The case involving 15 of the officers is finalised. We are just waiting for the verdict. The other cases are still going through the process.”
He said an outside attorney had been appointed and instructed to finalise the remaining cases by year-end.
The JMPD was calling witnesses in those remaining 22 cases.
In the latest case on October 10, Soweto resident Sibusiso Ntimba was allegedly beaten up and burnt on a hot engine by metro police officers because he had failed to produce his driving licence.
Then, on July 28, a carpenter from Linden was allegedly assaulted and arrested by a group of metro officers after he had asked them why they were destroying a rock feature in his neighbourhood.

- To report similar incidents please contact The Star on

Learners Licenses in SA - A time bomb?

"Fuc*!" This is what I said to myself when I opened the learner's license question paper yesterday when I went to the Randburg Civic center to write my learner's license. The questions on the paper had the answers underlined by the previous learners who used them to write and the authority never minded giving us the same papers. So, for all the answers that I did not know, I referred to what the previous learners underlined or where the authorities tried to rub off the underlined answers, I could see the trace of the pencil.

With so many accidents happening in South Africa, then surely this should be something to worry about. Added with the fact that question papers are freely available on the public, one has to be more worried ( I must admit that I used a paper that was illegally sourced). It means that students do not learn all the traffic rules but only the ones they will be tested on. No wonder we see so many accidents in the country. People just don't know all the traffic lights because they never learned about them. Perhaps we should just get rid of this this learner's thing??

Or why don't the authorities move on to electronic testing where questions are generated by the computer? Surely this will force students to learn all the traffic signs irrespective of the class of vehicle being applied to.

If we want our roads to be safe, this is where to begin otherwise all the initiatives that the government is doing will just be fruitless.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Watching them like a Hawk - Big Brother is here

Hello all,

Sorry for not being so available as I used to. Well, this is not going to change, because my new job is really taking a lot of time I used to have before...but I am not complaining he he. In any case, a week back my wife asked me how long does it take for the JRA to fix a robot that is not working. I thought that was a good question which I did not have a straight answer. So like statisticians, I gave her an average number.....guess how long I told her it takes JRA to fix their robot? 4 days average I said. Do you agree?

Did I hear 7 days? Lol....well one other interesting thing I have observed is that it most of their robots get messed up once it rains and indeed last week it did rain and a number of the robots around the jurisdiction of JRA has gone blank. This has resulted in the intersection causing a lot of congestion and with the traffic officers not being readily available (or not bothering at all) to control traffic on those intersection it get worse in some areas and also affects other small streets that cant accommodate high traffic volumes (i saw the highest number of cars in my street because robots at Beyers Naude/Judges were not working last week)

So, to get the exact average I thought I should track the robots that out of order everyday and report them here. At the end, when I am satisfied that I have covered the areas enough, I will tell u the average. I will record each robot that is out of order by placing a map here from the moment I find out it was out of order to the moment it get fixed. At the end, I will publish the day it took to be fixed.

So enjoy folks, and please if you spot anything in Jozi let me know. See below for a link to robots out of order since yesterday.,+Wilson+Street&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Wilson+St,+Randburg,+Gauteng&msa=0&msid=101582471106944558287.0004943b53da4fb71b75d&ll=-26.093788,27.995224&spn=0.07477,0.110035&z=13&iwloc=0004943b5950ea5971cce

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

So, who is going to be the new CEO of Transnet? Or are we going to get another acting CEO?

Acting CEO Chris Wells is out, a day after his boss Barbara Hogan was outsted by President Jacob Zuma for non performance. So we wonder who is going to replace him. This is despite Transnet doing well under his leadership though he was in an acting position, according to media commentators (though there were some bad stories under his belt - think the PRASA Vs Transnet dispute??).

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pretoria Bus Routes Maps Project not going well

Contracrary to what I promised here, I am unable to complete the project within the set time which was yesterday. I have since changed jobs and my new job is giving me a hell of a time. I simply cant find time like I used to in the last job.

Thank you.

I am Back!

Its been a while but I am glad that I am back and I am sorry for not warning you about the dissappearance. While away, I read this story below and I thought it will be interesting for you. Happy readings

WHILE Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele continues to tout high-speed rail as the preferred mode of transport of the future, the reality is that SA’s long-distance passenger train service may soon be something of the past if action is not taken soon.

Most South Africans may support futuristic plans to link Durban and Johannesburg via a high- speed rail link but many doubt the government’s ability to implement these projects with any success when the management of the existing passenger train service has at best been dismal. The wheels at the Passenger Rail Agency of SA’s (Prasa’s) Shosholoza Meyl unit appear to have well and truly fallen off and if the government and the agency’s management don’t do something fast, long-distance train travel in SA will cease to be a reality.

Behind the slow collapse of the service is a protracted dispute with Transnet over a R1,3bn debt owed to the logistics group by Prasa for the transfer of Shosholoza Meyl to it last year.

The feud burst into the public domain in August, when Transnet refused to carry out any further maintenance until the debt had been settled, effectively halting all Shosholoza Meyl services.

Prasa was able to resume operations only after finding an alternative means of servicing its locomotives, and even now only about 50% of the routes have been restored.

But that row is just one small part of the problem.

Prasa appears not to have enough cash to continue operating for much longer and management is putting together a plan to prop up the business by disposing of its property assets.

But even if management finds the cash to continue operating, it will have a tough time coaxing passengers back to the service. With less than a third of the trains running on time, passengers have lost all faith in the service, with 23% fewer using Shosholoza Meyl in the 2009-10 financial year than they did in the previous year.

But who is to blame for this sorry mess?

Transnet must shoulder some of the blame. Former Transnet CEO Maria Ramos may have thought it a good idea to get shot of the underperforming passenger rail service and make it someone else’s problem. However, Prasa CEO Lucky Montana is certainly not likely to let Transnet off that easily. Mr Montana alleges in the latest Prasa annual report that Transnet handed over a neglected and poorly managed business plagued by weak internal and financial controls. Prasa will not pay up the R1,3bn it owes without putting up a fight.

The government must also be blamed. It should have never allowed Prasa to take over Shosholoza Meyl without providing the funds it needed to sustain and upgrade the service. Now while the government mulls further funding, Prasa continues to slide toward collapse.

Then the finger must also be pointed at Prasa. The auditor- general’s report on Prasa claims that “management of the Shosholoza Meyl division of Prasa did not exercise oversight responsibility over reporting, maintenance of adequate accounting records, and implementation and compliance with internal controls. Management also did not implement appropriate actions to mitigate risks identified.” It is clear that Prasa was slow in tackling the problem and has made a bad situation worse.

However, the blame game will not solve the problems at Prasa. The government cannot afford to spend any more time dreaming of the future. It must act now. And, until Prasa is back on a sound footing and able to provide a world-class service, do not burden it with future high-speed rail projects as proposed. Give that to private entities that have already proved they know how to operate trains on time and profitably.