The City of Johannesburg’s newly launched Rea Vaya (‘We are moving’) bus rapid transit (BRT) system will form the backbone of the city’s public transport plans to reduce the use of private cars and relieve traffic gridlocks.
Speaking at the launch and signing of a memorandum of understanding between the City of Johannesburg and representatives of the taxi industry, City of Johannesburg transportation executive director Bob Stanway said that the BRT system will be the “main catalyst” by which to achieve a 70:30 ratio of public transport to private transport use ahead of 2010.
Phase 1 of the estimated R2-billion project, which is now reaching the end of the operational planning phase, will run arti-culated ‘right-of-way’ buses along dedicated median bus lanes in both directions across Johannesburg by 2010, covering almost half of Johannesburg, commented Stanway.
The 120-km Phase 1 route will include 150 stations, eight terminals and six depots.
In addition to the 427 twenty-two-metre-long articulated trunk buses, the system will incorporate a variety of complementary and feeder services, including 413 eight-and-a-half-metre-long feeder buses and 350 complementary 13,9-metre-long buses.
The system is expected to transport 430 000 passengers daily.
High-floor buses will allow passengers to embark and disembark at closed, raised stations, with level boarding every half a kilometre to three-quarters of a kilometre. Effective security, including closed-circuit television cameras, will be incorporated into the system.
Preboarding fare collection and smart card fare technology will avoid the need for cash on the system and prevent departure delays.
Rea Vaya will incorporate a geographic information system-based control centre to manage the flow of buses, which will operate at a peak-hour frequency of one to three minutes and ten minutes off-peak, running between 05:00 and midnight.
Phase 1A, comprising a 40-km route with 48 stations, will be completed by April 2009, ahead of the FIFA Confederations Cup, while Phase 1B will add 86 km and 102 stations to the system ahead of the 2010 World Cup.
Bus propulsion systems will initially be of the ecofriendly Euro-3 diesel standard, commented Stanway.
The system will include routes from Nasrec to Ellis Park through Newtown; Dobsonville to Troyeville through the central business district (CBD); Lenasia to Sunninghill; Randburg to the CBD; Alexandra to Regina Mundi; Braamfontein to the CBD; and a central inner-city route.
The system will interchange with the Gautrain at Park station, Rosebank and Sandton stations and will interchange with Metrorail at Park station and these will be major interchanges at New Canada, Orlando and Lenasia.
A park-and-ride facility will also be established to encourage business professionals to use the system.
In addition to reducing road congestion and pollution levels, the BRT system will enable faster travel times and can operate according to bus timetables.
Universtity of Johannesburg Department of Transport and Supply Chain Management head Professor Jackie Walters added that the system and the accessibility it brings will go a long way towards physically and mentally integrating the city and improving the quality of life of inhabitants. Reliable public transport will also “result in more flexible employment and transport arrangements, which are currently often constrained by the existing bus and taxi systems in the area”, commented Walters.
The Rea Vaya BRT system will incorporate Metrorail and the local taxi operators. “We are working towards negotiated contracts with the existing taxi and bus operators on these routes, so that they effectively become the new joint operators of the BRT system,” commented Stanway.
The system plans to level the playing field between existing taxi and bus operators, while drastically improving operating efficiencies and costs. According to the BRT business model, bus operators will be concessioned to operate the system.
Compensation will be based on bus kilo-metres travelled rather than numbers of passengers. Revenues will be distributed by an independent fare-collection system and fares are expected to cost the same as, or less than, current bus travel rates.
On completion, the BRT network, which is being implemented by the Johannesburg Development Agency in conjunction with the Johannesburg Roads Agency, will span some 330 km across the Johannesburg landscape.