Considering that a reliable public transport service is an indicator of a country’s progress, coupled with increasing fuel prices and new vehicle prices, the benefits of using buses cannot be contested, according to consulting engineering firm GIBB.
In Cape Town, infrastructure for transport–ation remains the single largest investment, and the MyCiTi integrated rapid transit system, in particular, is an example of how a public transport system can contribute significantly to growth and development.
The MyCiTi integrated rapid transit system was initiated in response to the need to significantly improve public transport and meet the need for reliable, safe, secure, convenient and affordable transport.
Launched in 2010, the MyCiTi bus transit system has transformed Cape Town’s public transport system and the service continues to improve with expansion plans in the pipeline.
In a joint venture (JV) with technical and management support services corporation Aecom, GIBB has assisted in tackling the public transport challenges by providing overall operational support for the MyCiTi integrated rapid transit system.
The contract required a dedicated team of professionals assisting the City of Cape Town to run various aspects of the project to keep the buses on the road, which includes timetable development and management, coordinating the design and application of signage, fleet management, control centre management and processing data for reporting.
One of the core principles of the MyCiTi system is that public transport should take precedence over private vehicles. Currently, about 500 000 people enter and leave the Cape Town central business district every 24 hours at a rate of about 60 000 an hour in the morning and afternoon peak hours, with 40% of these people using private vehicles.
GIBB traffic and transportation sector unit manager Andrew Bulman says GIBB’s role has been to ensure the smooth daily operations of this multifaceted system, that the bus operators continue to deliver exceptional service and that GIBB keeps up with the increasing demand to encourage people to make the shift from cars to buses.
The latest infrastructure and modernised bus technologies were employed to support the rapid service, including intelligent transport systems, real-time commuter information boards and a new electronic fare collection system, based on smartcards, which allows commuters to “tap on/off buses” and top up their cards.
Key to the success of the project has been participation of the existing bus and minibus operators. “Operators are compensated for providing public transport services on the basis of predetermined vehicle kilometres and a range of performance-based indicators – instead of operating only when it is profitable to do so (mainly in peak hours) and completing journeys as quickly as possible to transport as many people as possible,” he says.
The MyCiTi operators now have incentives to offer a high-quality service according to a strict schedule, with electronic monitoring of each vehicle’s progress along the route,” adds Bulman.
“Local transport cannot work if it does not incorporate a good bus service that is accessible, affordable and attractive to a broad range of people across society. This project is critical to the success of South Africa's transport systems and we will continue to improve our service to meet the demand,” he concludes.