Metrorail does not currently run “where the people are”, says Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) CEO Jack van der Merwe.
Metrorail is operated by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).
Van der Merwe on Wednesday appeared at the Competition Commission’s land-based public passenger transport inquiry in Johannesburg.
The Commission is conducting the inquiry because it has reason to believe that “there are features, or a combination of features, in the industry that may prevent, distort or restrict competition, and/or to achieve the purpose of the Competition Act”.
In response to a question on the Metrorail and Gautrain systems competing on the same routes, Van der Merwe said that Metrorail was built between 1930 and 1950 to serve the mining and farming industries.
However, today “it does not run where the people are. Even worse, it does not run where people work.”
Van der Merwe said the new proposed extension of the Gautrain system, currently awaiting National Treasury approval, would not compete with Metrorail, but “complement it”.
He said the current Gautrain system linked up with the Metrorail system, where ever possible.
He noted that PRASA also formed part of the planning committee for the planned 150 km extension of the Gautrain system, called Gautrain 2.
Van der Merwe added that Gauteng’s rapidly growing population – with an influx of 200 000 people a year – and the demands that this migration placed on the province’s transport system, meant that PRASA and Gautrain “could not survive without each other”.
The GMA was acquiring 48 new coaches in an attempt to deal with rising demand on the Gautrain, especially during peak periods.
The successful bidder should be announced by the end of the year, or the beginning of next year.
Van der Merwe noted that the Gautrain bus system currently ran with 200 passengers per bus a day.
“I know of no BRT [bus rapid transit system] running more than 200 a day.”
Van der Merwe warned that mobility in Gauteng was shifting away from public transport.
In 2000, 60% of commuters used public transport, and 40% their cars. In 2011, 56% used public transport and 44% their private cars.
Van der Merwe added that e-hailing, through services such as Uber, had proved popular in Gauteng, especially with the youth.
Prior to e-hailing, Gauteng had 4 000 metered taxis. However, currently there are around 15 000 e-hailing taxis in Gauteng.
“There has been a lot of induced demand. People like using it, but it has to be managed. There is a shift to mobility as a service.”