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Aug 24, 2007

Tshwane says work on R1,9bn bus scheme to start next year

© Reuse this The City of Tshwane will develop a R1,9-billion bus rapid transit (BRT) system of 92 km, to be operational in time for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

Construction is to start mid-2008, and to be concluded in 2010.

This BRT public transport system is the first phase of a four-phase project to develop public transport in the city.

The completed system will eventually consist of 472 km of infrastructure, says City of Tshwane transport system planning and forecasts deputy manager Jaco van den Berg.

Tshwane's first-phase bus rapid system will run from Mapobane, past Wonderpark shopping centre on the Mabopane freeway, the inner city, Brooklyn, shopping mecca Menlyn, Faerie Glen, and on to Mamelodi.

Commuters will be able to make use of an associated distribution service within the inner city once they step off the main line, says Van den Berg.

Busses will operate at two to four minute intervals during peak periods, and seven to ten minutes during off-peak periods.

The system will be operational from five in the morning to midnight.

The BRT busses will make use of dedicated median lanes (as opposed to kerbside lanes) to be developed on current road alignments, thereby minimising costs.

This means a four-lane road (two lanes in each direction), will see one lane become a BRT lane, with the other then a mixed-traffic lane.

BRT lanes will be separated from the normal traffic lanes by semi-rigid structure, thereby allowing exclusive bus use.

This will ensure the busses can travel at speed, without the constraints of peak-hour traffic.

The busses will stop at dedicated stations, placed at 750 m intervals along the route.

Tickets will not be issued on the bus, but at the stations.

The BRT stations will feature pedestrian access, bicycle parking, park-and-ride facilities (not all stations), and rail-road interfaces where applicable.

For example, says Van den Berg, the BRT system will stop at the Hatfield and Pretoria Gautrain stations, and the Pretoria Metrorail station.

He says operators will be invited via open tender to operate the high-frequency BRT.

Successful bidders will be paid by kilometre, and not per commuter, which will ensure quality of service as commuters will not have to wait for busses to fill up before departure.

Van den Berg says the city council will attempt to convince taxi and bus operators to bid for some of the routes on the BRT, as their possible dissatisfaction with the system could cause conflict.

He notes that various funding options are currently being considered to construct this system, one of these being an application to national government's Public Transport Infrastructure and Systems Fund.

Van den Berg says implementing a BRT system became necessary due to increasing congestion on the city's roads, as well as long commuter waiting times for traditional public transport modes.

Public transport passenger density between Rosslyn and Mapobane, for example, is around 14 600 people per hour, one way.

Much of this is due to Tshwane's economy growing 4,6% a year from 1995 to 2003, and increased urbanisation.

Van den Berg says Tshwane decided on a BRT system following a study tour to South America and France, where these type of systems are prevalent.

"It is well-accepted worldwide that BRTs are effective and cost-efficient public transport systems. They are well-established on all continents, except Africa.

"However, it is encouraging that cities such as Dar Es Salaam, Cape Town, Johannesburg, and now Tshwane are considering BRTs."

Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
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