Improved transport system to remain after World Cup

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pretoria - The billions of rands spent on upgrading South Africa's public transport for the 2010 World Cup will benefit South Africans long after the final match of the tournament is played.

"It is here and it is not going to go away after 2010. The infrastructure that is now in place will still be here in August and even next year," Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said on Tuesday.

Ndebele was confident that the country's integrated transport infrastructure and networks would meet the needs of the World Cup.

From the airports to the Guatrain, Johannesburg's Bus Rapid Transit system to inter-city transport services, rail and road - all were ready for the World Cup, the minister said.

"Government has invested more than R40 billion on public transport infrastructure for the 2010 World Cup, to ensure that the tournament leaves a rich legacy for our country and continent," Ndebele added.

The Gautrain, which the minister described as a "new dawn in public transport," officially began operations on Tuesday.

The Bus Rapid Transit system, the first of its kind in the country, was also launched ahead of the World Cup.

Train stations in Cape Town, Durban and Gauteng, some of them brand new, others refurbished, have been unveiled in the days running up to the World Cup.

The country's roads has also received a face lift with two additional lanes in each direction from the OR Tambo International Airport to the Hans Strijdom Interchange and the new R21 flyover at the flying saucer interchange was expected to open by Thursday.

Ndebele said the country's existing inter-city transport services had been enhanced with semi-luxury buses and midi buses from the taxi industry running during the World Cup.

The minister encouraged soccer fans attending the matches to make use of the inter-city services as this form of transport will operate from all operational hubs in various host cities directly to the stadia.

"Spectators using this service are guaranteed to arrive at the stadia at least two hours before every match. Parking areas for drop-off will be between 100 and 800 metres to the stadia," he added.

The minister dismissed fears that the country's roads were a hazard, saying safety plans were in place and that the death toll during previous sporting events hosted in South Africa was negligible.

Wayne Riddel of the 2010 Passenger Transport Services urged those attending matches to ensure they made proper transport arrangements.

The public will not be allowed to take their vehicles into the stadia.

"Now that everyone has tickets for the games they need to make sure they have tickets for the transport that will get them to the stadia," Riddel added.

The Transport Department has also set up a National Transport Call Centre that will provide support for fans traveling to the World Cup matches. The call centre number is (011) 256-1000.