New Rea Vaya route to lower transport costs

Monday, October 14, 2013
Nthambeleni Gabara

Johannesburg - The opening of the new Rea Vaya bus system route on Monday has been welcomed by the South Africa Commuters’ Association (SACA). 

Speaking to SAnews after the unveiling of the plaque at Rea Vaya Empire Road bus station, SACA representative Elizabeth Dyasi, who hails from Orange Farm, said: “We are happy because Rea Vaya is affordable to unemployed commuters like me.

“As a commuter association, we welcome the unveiling of this new route and we are excited … We did not have buses [where I stay] and coming to town using taxis was very expensive for us, so Rea Vaya is safe and affordable.”

Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane said the unveiling of the new route was a demonstration that South Africa will never be the same.

“A few years ago, there would have been a taxi industry strike. There would have been vandalism and some of the taxis would have parked on our freeways because the taxi industry would have been angered by the unveiling of the new Rea Vaya route,” she said.

The unveiling started with a visit to the Marcopolo bus building plant in Germiston, where officials witnessed the creation of local jobs and skills transfer in the bus manufacturing process.

Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau said passengers will be able to access some of the public hospitals such as Rahima Moosa, Helen Joseph and Charlotte Maxeke as well as other private health facilities.

Tau said the introduction of the Rea Vaya bus rapid transit (BRT) system has become far more than a public transport project, in that it was a significant contributor to job creation.

There are now 13 new bus stations that are operational and Tau said just under 120 people have been employed by the city to staff the stations.

He said the recruited staff members were residents of Gauteng, who have worked in the taxi industry.

Tau said when the bus operating company -- which will be owned and managed by former operators from the taxi industry and Putco -- for the route is fully operational, it will create about 300 jobs.

“We’ve invested R1.7 billion in the infrastructure for Phase 1B, such as the roadways and stations, including a new underpass between Newclare and Bosmont and three pedestrian bridges to improve pedestrian safety. During the construction process, about 9 300 jobs were created,” he said.

Tau said they were also planning to introduce a number of fare products, such as weeklies, monthly tickets, concession fares for pensioners and students to increase the affordability of the buses.

The mayor said Rea Vaya would also be extended with the aim of linking areas such as Alexandra and Ivory Park with Sandton and Rosebank.

Improved safety, convenience

The new fleet has a self-operated lift to allow people with disabilities to easily get on and off the bus; flaps to close the gap when docking at the stations to improve safety; racks for storage of shopping bags and parcels; and heaters for use during winter.

There are also cameras to help the driver with docking and additional passenger safety.

At the bus stations, bike storage racks have been installed and dustbins to reduce littering. The new bus route will enable the provincial government to achieve its vision of an integrated public transport system in Johannesburg, linking Rea Vaya, Metrorail and the Gautrain.

The new bus services are being rolled out during government’s October Transport Month. October was declared Transport Month in 2005 during the Transport Lekgotla.

This year’s Transport Month theme is ‘Celebrating 20 years delivering efficient, reliable and safe transport services’.

During Transport Month, government will highlight achievements in creating safe transport modes, and contributions towards socio-economic development and innovation. -

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