Closure of traffic lanes in Joburg

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Johannesburg - In preparation for the much anticipated launch of Rea Vaya, South Africa's first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, at the end of August, the City of Joburg will start closing off some traffic lanes. 

Dedicated traffic lanes were constructed specifically for the Rea Vaya project to ensure a fast and effective public transport system for commuters. 

At the end of this month, phase 1A of the Rea Vaya will be operational between Regina Mundi and Ellis Park.

"During August, barriers will be erected across the BRT lanes at all intersections to sensitise the public not to use those lanes. There will also be road signs to indicate the 'bus only' lanes," said Rehana Moosajee, the City's Member of the Mayoral Committee for Transportation.

Points-men will also be deployed at key intersections to alleviate any congestion. 

Ms Moosajee warned that road users should be aware that illegally parked vehicles within the BRT corridors will be towed away. 

Additionally, road users should take note of special traffic signals intended for the BRT buses at intersections.

"Traffic lights at the various intersections will display a red or green bus to regulate the BRT buses specifically. Road users should take care and respond to the normal mixed-lane traffic signals," she explained. 

While the beginning of August will be used to create awareness among road users about the BRT lane restrictions, Ms Moosajee said the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department will start with measures to ensure that members of the public comply to the lane closures as from 14 August.

Lanes in the following roads will be closed on 14 August: Market/Commissioner
Mooi/Troye, Smit/Wolmerans, Saratoga, Bertrams, Chris Hani, Klipspruitvalley, Sofasonke and Mooki.

On 21 August, the Mirriam Makeba and Soweto Highways, will be closed. 

The commencement of the Rea Vaya comes amid resistance from the local taxi industry. 

Following escalating tensions and a violent strike by the taxi industry earlier this year, President Jacob Zuma in April called for work on the BRT to be temporarily suspended. 

Transport Minister S'bu Ndebele met with taxi operators last month and an interim agreement was reached.

Modelled on Columbia's public transport system, Rea Vaya will include 143 new buses that will operate between 5am and 11pm daily, at a frequency of three minutes in peak times and every 10 minutes during off-peak times.

Commuters will pay R3 for a trip in the inner city, and R8 for a full trip, with any number of transfers for two hours. 

Tickets will be available at the stations and other vendors, with drivers not handling any money, thereby ensuring a much speedier service.

Phase 1B of the BRT system, which is due before the 2010 FIFA World Cup, will include a second Soweto route, running past the University of Johannesburg and the University of the Witwatersrand, on to Sandton. 

Phase 1C will encompass the route from Alexandra to Cresta.