Jul 27, 2012
Commuter needs must come first for public transport successBack
Cape Town|Gautrain|REA|SSI|SSI Engineers|South Africa|Gautrain|Bus Systems|Generic Technical Solution|Public Transport Services|Transport|Gautrain|Erwin Van Dijk|Gautrain|Gerhard Hitge
© Reuse this
“Municipalities continue to focus on the provision of a generic technical solution, instead of understanding and addressing a wide range of complementary and, in some cases, contradictory user needs,” he explains. “The introduction of a new system such as a bus rapid transit (BRT) system or a scheduled bus service will, without incorporating different user needs, not provide an acceptable transport option for all.”
Van Dijk and colleague Gerhard Hitge, Cape Town transport planning and policy development head, are proponents of what they refer to as an “incremental approach” to public transport improvements – an approach more likely to provide improved public transport to the majority of a city’s residents, they believe.
They argue, for example, that although the Gautrain and Rea Vaya and MyCiTi BRT systems have improved the image and acceptance of public transport, these large-scale, one-project improvements come with challenges and risks and are implemented at a cost that puts a large burden on developing cities.
“Despite the quality offered through the roll-out of large-scale projects, it is a slow process, which results in poor public transport service continuing in large parts of the cities not immediately benefiting from improvements,” says Hitge.
However, an incremental approach can reduce some of the risks inherent in major interventions. It can provide the opportunity to gradually implement supporting policies, while also allowing improvements in a wider area, benefiting a larger part of the population over a much shorter period, he adds.
“This does not necessarily mean that widely available quality public transport is not realistic – it only needs a realistic step-by-step implementation that fits the available funding,” says Van Dijk.
“Upgrading does not only have to consist of the phased roll-out of a new public transport flavour such as the BRT, but could also include incremental upgrades of existing public transport corridors.”
In other words, public transport can be improved through many small steps instead of a few extensively planned and costly large jumps, Van Dijk summarises.
Public transport use can also be improved by elements such as land use, transport planning, urban design, and communication and marketing, he adds.
If even one of these components is underdeveloped, the public transport system will be unable to meet the demands of travellers.
In other words, the existence of a bus service alone will not give a potential user enough reason to use it, says Hitge.
“Public transport can only be fully unlocked by combining all the excellent elements into one public transport experience. Pockets of excellence are not enough.”
Public transport is likely to provide a better service, and thus a better opportunity for users, in cities that are well designed, for example, and have a diversity of land uses at appropriate densities.
However, in South Africa, the urban environment around public transport interchanges is mostly poor, which creates an experience that is unsatisfying to current users and prohibitive to potential new users.
“Changing the urban fabric in support of a public transport lifestyle is a long-term process and requires conviction and strong leadership to drive transformation,” says Hitge, “but it is a long way from being impossible”.
Communication and marketing are also essential to create a public transport life- style, says Van Dijk. Marketing and information campaigns can increase awareness, change community perceptions and highlight the advantages of a specific service.
“In fact, the lack of ‘image’ is one of the reasons public transport users aspire to own a private car,” suggests van Dijk.
In South Africa, the public transport system is not marketed as a whole, and each operator does its own marketing to a greater or lesser extent. In many cases, marketing is targeted at the existing users, with no campaigns to attract new users to the system. There is virtually no coordination, and none of the operators publish schedules in printed form, notes Van Dijk.
However, amid all these ‘softer’ elements, the actual transport system also has to live up to expectations, he adds.
Improved public transport operations, with additional services, different alter- natives and reliable schedules, can also increase the motivation to travel.
“Only BRT and the Metrorail business express trains provide travel times that are reasonably competitive with private cars during peak hours,” says Hitge. “Other operations are slow and experience the same traffic conditions as private cars. There is also no integrated ticketing system in place where one ticket can be used on several systems.”
So, is all lost? Can car owners be per- suaded to shift to public transport?
They can, say Van Dijk and Hitge. “It is not a lack of good practice, but rather the lack of integration, the lack of transferability of best practice, and the lack of coordination between land use and transport planning that prevent the anticipated shift to public transport.”
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines
Other Public Transport News
Article contains comments
Recent Research Reports
Defence 2013: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Defence Report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key players in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the defence sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial...
Road and Rail 2013: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2013 Report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move...
Liquid Fuels 2013 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Liquid Fuels report examines South Africa’s liquid fuels market, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing,...
Projects in Progress - Second Edition (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s second Projects in Progress supplement considers some of the major project developments under way, including high-profile energy and transport projects, as well as a few of the lower-profile public and private developments. What remains apparent is...
Water 2013: A review of South Africa’s water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2013 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
Canadian Mining Roundup for June 2013 (PDF Report)
The June 2013 roundup includes details of the development of TSX-V-listed Aldridge Minerals’ flagship Yenipazar polymetallic project, in Turkey; the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s renewal of Cameco’s uranium mining licence pertaining to the Cigar Lake...
This Week's Magazine
Mitsubishi Motors South Africa (MMSA) has introduced a 4x2 derivative of its Pajero Sport sports-utility vehicle (SUV), which will give it access to a substantial slice of the full-size SUV market, where it will compete with the likes of the Ford Everest, Chevrolet...
South African Energy Minister Ben Martins has affirmed that the government wants the country to be globally competitive in the nuclear sector. "Our responsibility has always been ... to ensure that, in nuclear energy, South Africa can compete with the rest of the...
Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) president and CEO Dr Martin Zimmermann describes the new S-Class as “a special place to be”, with the car creating a sense of “wellness” once you are seated inside the German brand’s flagship model. It is difficult to argue...
Water scarcity and water-quality issues are broadly recognised and understood in most political, business and civil organisations in South Africa, but solving water issues will require wide and continuous action in catchments and municipalities by organisations and...
Work is well under way on the R212-million Imvutshane dam, 30 km north-west of Stanger, in KwaZulu-Natal, which is a key link in supplying people in rural Maphumulo with a reliable source of safe drinking water.