The City of Tshwane on Wednesday started the construction of South Africa’s latest bus rapid transit (BRT) system in Arcadia, Hatfield.
The R2.6-billion Tshwane BRT system, which formed part of the city’s revitalisation project, would comprise three depots and 51 stations on an 80 km route stretching through, besides others, the Pretoria central business district (CBD); Hatfield; Menlyn; Sunnyside; Akasia; Kopanong, in Soshanguve; Mamelodi and Pretoria North.
Speaking at the construction site of the Arcadia street station, executive mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa said that the system would go live in April 2014 with the completion of the first phase of the project.
Phase 1 would extend from Akasia to Menlyn, through Sunnyside and Hatfield, while Phase 2 would run from Rainbow Junction to Menlyn, through Pretoria North, the CBD and Hatfield.
The mayor noted that the entire system, which was yet to be named, would be operational by October 2015.
The BRT system would require about 340 buses, some of which would be powered by gas, at a cost of about R1-billion.
Ramokgopa expected over 10 000 jobs to be created during the construction phase, and about 1 000 sustainable jobs once the system was live. These included 529 bus operators and related personnel, 94 employees for the proposed call centre and about 300 workers managing and maintaining the ticketing system.
“Tshwane's bus rapid transit system will be integrated in partnership with existing public transport facilities, which will ferry passengers to and from BRT stations, improving efficiencies and impact for residents,” said Ramokgopa.
He commented that the system was based on the model used by the Rea Vaya BRT in Johannesburg. The Tshwane system would also implement an ownership model, where current licensed bus and taxi operators on the affected routes would eventually own, operate and manage the BRT.
Johannesburg’s Rea Vaya opened its doors in August 2009 and Cape Town’s MyCiTi network was officially opened in 2011. Rustenburg is also planning a BRT system, with construction scheduled to start this month.
The City of Tshwane aimed to operate the bus services along BRT trunk routes every three to five minutes during peak hours, with feeder services at the stations and terminals every 15 minutes to enable greater efficiency and ease of use for passengers.
The BRT system would operate between 05:00 and 20:30 from Monday to Saturday, and 07:00 and 19:00 on Sundays and public holidays.
The city said the BRT would provide a “rapid, frequent, high-quality, affordable and convenient” public transport service that would improve urban mobility and integration.
“Currently, 66% of peak-hour trips are made using private vehicles, leading to traffic congestion. Many economically deprived areas are entirely dependent on public transport,” he explained.
The system would be named through a public voting competition ending on July 31. The proposed names for Tshwane’s BRT system were Maleka, meaning ‘roundabout’, A Re Veng, which means ‘let’s go’, Tsumaya, for ‘go’ and Dumela, which means ‘hello’.