City of Johannesburg executive mayor Amos Masondo said on Wednesday that he was confident that the city could reach an agreement with taxi operators regarding the Rea Vaya bus rapid-transit (BRT) system, which was ready to commence with a starter service on August 30.
The public would be allowed to use the system free of charge on August 30 to celebrate the “historic moment”.
The starter service would allow the city to iron out any teething problems with the project, while negotiations with taxi operators continued, it said.
The R1,6-billion phase 1A of the system was initially set to be operational by June 14, before the start of the FIFA Confederations Cup, but taxi drivers and operators have protested against its implementation, accusing the city of sidelining some relevant parties.
Masondo noted that the city has now established an interim company, which would act on behalf of the affected taxi operators, to manage the system until the city could finalise negotiations with the taxi industry to establish a bus operating company that would eventually own and manage the BRT system.
The interim company would manage the system only for a period of up to six months, he said.
The official bus operating company established by taxi operators would then own and run the buses, while the city would determine the schedule, do the marketing for the project and undertake road and station maintenance.
Johannesburg mayoral committee member for transportation Rehana Moosajee said that it would start off with a few buses and ramp up to 40 buses for the starter service by January.
About 143 buses would be in operation once phase one of the project was completed by about 2013, she noted.
Commuters would pay R3 a ticket to use the inner-city routes, R5 a ticket for the trunk route and R8 a ticket for any number of transfers in two hours.
Buses on the inner-city routes would operate between 05:00 and 08:30 and between 15:00 and 20:30 from ten to 15 minute intervals. Buses on the trunk route would also operate between 05:00 and 08:30 and between 15:00 and 20:30, but from 20 minute to 30 minute intervals.
Masondo, meanwhile, announced that the city had started negotiations with Phase 1A taxi operators, which comprised members from ten taxi associations, on August 5.
“The door remains open for all those who wish to become part of this important process,” he commented.
Meanwhile, Masondo also reported that it would soon make an announcement on a successor for the former BRT project manager, Bob Stanway, who resigned in July.
Stanway’s successor was expected to take up the position from September 1.