The City of Johannesburg aims to complete phase 1B of its Rea Vaya bus rapid transit (BRT) system by 2012, says Johannesburg transport executive director Lisa Seftel.
Phase 1B is the second loop, or second trunk route, in the system, and will run from Noordgezicht to Parktown, and on to the Johannesburg central business district (CBD).
The 18 km, ten-station project will carry an estimated infrastructure cost of R1,2-billion, says Seftel, and will be funded by the national government.
The already operational R1,6-billion phase 1A of Rea Vaya runs from Thokoza Park, in Soweto, to Ellis Park, and also includes routes through the CBD. It covers 25,5 km, and has 33 stations. The largest section of this route opened in August 2009.
A trunk route, such as the one in phases 1A and 1B, is typically supported by several BRT feeder services ferrying passengers to and from the main routes.
Phase 1B of the Rea Vaya BRT system will add 150 buses to the existing fleet of 143 buses.
“We’ll go out to tender for these buses later this year, and the contract may also include a maintenance component,” notes Seftel.
New, somewhat altered bus specifications will be introduced for the new vehicles, based on feedback from commuters, such as the provision of heating in winter.
Current passenger numbers for phase 1A are about 30 000 a day, and around 600 000 passengers a month.
“We are now getting where we aimed to be, even though some routes are not well fre- quented,” explains Seftel.
She expects phase 1B to add another 45 000 passengers per weekday.
The newest expansion is expected to unlock industrial areas, hospitals and universities, as the route will cover the universities of Johannesburg and the Witwatersrand, as well as the Helen Joseph and Rahima Moosa hospitals, besides others.
Seftel adds that an automated fare collection system – featuring smart cards – is to be introduced in April, as opposed to the current cash-and-paper-ticket system.
This move should see fare revenue increase by 30% as fare evasion should prove more difficult.
It could also see less busy routes pick up more passengers as the fares on these sections could then be dropped to become more competitive with minibus taxis.
The next phase for Rea Vaya is 1C, running from Parktown to Sandton. A positive decision is still pending on this route’s environ- mental-impact assessment.
Further Rea Vaya phases will include links from Dobsonville, Protea Glen, Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital, Sunninghill and Alexandra into the existing Rea Vaya system.