Johannesburg - Metro police officers are to patrol the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network to crack down on the illegal use of the dedicated bus lanes.
Traffic congestion caused by undisciplined motorists and taxis on the Rea Vaya network are being addressed by a 40-strong team of dedicated Johannesburg metro police (JMPD) officers, reports Joburg.org.
The JMPD was originally only deployed on an ad hoc basis to patrol the network, but the City soon realised that stronger law enforcement controls were necessary because of the additional congestion caused by the unauthorised use of the dedicated Rea Vaya lanes by other motorists.
Some buses were delayed by up to 30 minutes as a result.
Problem areas where police presence will be increased substantially include Twist and Noord streets; and Twist and De Villiers streets, as well as a portion of the Soweto Highway at the entrance to Orlando East.
The entire network will be patrolled on a 24-hour basis, with the focus on safety for commuters and pedestrians inside buses and around the stations.
Fare evasion has also been identified as a problem by Rea Vaya management. Increasingly, passengers are found on buses without valid tickets. The JMPD will also help in enforcing the payment of fares and other transport-related legislation.
In the new year, all 143 buses of the Rea Vaya phase 1A network will be back on the road, boosted by the police presence to ease traffic along the network. Commuters can expect a slick service in 2010, confirms the communications and marketing manager for Rea Vaya, CC Mackay.
From 18 November, the City temporarily halted the two circular routes in the inner city - to Newtown and Braamfontein - so that the Rea Vaya service could be improved for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The inner city routes were not well frequented, with an average of only 200 passengers a day using the network.
The trunk route between Thokoza Park and Ellis Park, however, has been so well supported that the City has needed to increase the frequency of buses during certain times as well as start the service earlier on weekends.
Rea Vaya phase 1A will be fully operational and under the control of a taxi-owned company in the first quarter of the new year.
The member of the mayoral committee for transport, Rehana Moosajee, has assured commuters that measures will be put in place on a continuous basis with a view to improve safety conditions, thus fulfilling the City's promise of a safe, fast and reliable public transport system.