First day sees overwhelming support for Rea Vaya

Monday, August 31, 2009

Johannesburg - The City of Johannesburg on Monday said it was encouraged by the overwhelming support for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.

Long queues were reported in Soweto and the city centre on Monday morning as commuters rushed to get on board the new buses.

"Today is indeed a historic day for the City, for commuters and for the country, and we are really encouraged by the overwhelming support we are already receiving from commuters and the general public," the city said in a statement.

"We ask commuters to please be patient if they encounter long queues at stations - we understand that it will take a while for the system to run at first".

Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele officially launched the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system on Sunday, making Johannesburg the first city to roll out the system.

The buses will be running every five minutes during peak periods and every 20 minutes in off-peak periods starting at 4:45 am to 11 pm.

Rea Vaya ambassadors will be available at every station to assist the public with enquiries.

Meanwhile, authorities have slammed the taxi industry for embarking on an impromptu strike action against the BRT.

This follows reports on Monday that hundreds of commuters were left stranded as many taxi drivers were not operating.

This is despite the industry's assurance at the weekend that it would not go-ahead with a planned strike in Johannesburg.

"We are very disappointed that despite the decision, taxi drivers are not operating," said Mayoral Committee member responsible for transport Rehana Moosajee.

She described the action as show of disrespect for the millions of commuters who have been supporting the industry over the years.

"Due to this current scenario with commuters left stranded at taxi ranks, the BRT system has been put under extreme pressure on the first full day of its operation," Ms Moosajee said.

When contacted by BuaNews, South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) Secretary General Phillip Taaibosch downplayed the reports attributing the problem to an inadequate number of taxis.

"What we heard is that there are not enough taxis," he said.

He said the taxi industry had temporarily suspended the strike until further notice.

"As we said the strike has been temporarily suspended and we are committed to the negotiations. Ours is to find a solution on issues that we have raised with government," Mr Taaibsch said.

Commuters with queries on the Rea Vaya service are encouraged to call the City's call centre on (011) 375-5555.