City launches new BRT routes despite protest threats

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pretoria - The introduction of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system's complementary and feeder routes are going ahead as planned in Soweto this morning, the City of Johannesburg said.

City spokesperson, Nthatisi Modingoane, said police were out in full force to ensure the safety of commuters after some roads were blockaded with stones. The taxi industry had initially threatened protest against the introduction of new BRT routes.

Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele warned that he will not compromise the rights of commuters to safe and reliable transport.

"The right to movement is a fundamental right. The choice of movement is also a fundamental right, "he said.

Ndebele said in conjunction with provinces and municipalities, government will continue to engage with the taxi industry.

Modingoane said despite the minor disruption, authorities were experiencing long queues, indicating that commuters welcomed the new bus services.

They include complementary services between Soweto, the City centre and Ellis Park Station. Another feeder service, transporting passengers between several Soweto suburbs to bus stations, would also be introduced. There will also be weekend services in all routes.

Johannesburg Mayor Amos Masondo is also optimistic that the challenges that were encountered during the initial stage of BRT have been dealt with and that authorities were ready to roll out the system in all major routes around Johannesburg.

"We have reached a remarkable degree of consensus on all aspects of BRT including the new routes the new buses will be traveling and we appreciate the participation of the taxi industry, both owners and drivers," Masondo said while delivering his state of the city address last week