A R674-million Sandton public transport loop, which would apparently create 260 000 employment opportunities, was launched by City of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba at the Sandton Gautrain station on Tuesday.
Mashaba said the loop - which the city will pilot from September 18 and until December - will provide efficient movement around Sandton. It will run along Rivonia Road, Fredman Drive, and Fifth Street among others.
Mashaba explained that the project was inherited from the previous administration, but that due to that administration's decade-long neglect of infrastructure maintenance in the city, more work had to be done.
"This upgrade is intended to ease traffic congestion, it's intended to link Sandton to the community of Alex, and improve access to transport systems with reduced travel times thereby accelerating our city's economic growth," he said.
For more than two years the city has been working on improving pedestrian space in the form of sidewalks, more cycle lanes, upgrading infrastructure around traffic signalisation and building two bridges over the M1 freeway - one for pedestrians and one for the Rea Vaya bus service - to link Alexandra township and Sandton.
During the pilot period, the city will welcome public feedback on whether the project is meeting its intended objective or not.
Prioritising non-motorised transport and public transport
Mashaba said the City of Johannesburg's economic growth was reliant on infrastructure investment in Sandton, and that transport was essential to the economic development of any nation.
Provincial MEC for Transport Ismail Vadi said plans also included those who use the road for purposes other than driving.
"Increasingly we must construct our roads in a way that accommodates different [types of] road users, and not just motorists," he said.
Vadi said nonmotorised transport and public transport should be prioritised.
"Gauteng's population is increasing every day," he said.
Citing census reports, Vadi said the rise in population was likely to increase over the next few years and that unless the city acts now, it would not be able to build itself out of transport congestion.
James Tannenberger of the Sandton Central Management District said they had realised that a car-based system in the often heavily congested Sandton area would place its status as a competitive and investment node in the city at risk.
He said there was a need for transport-oriented development to cater for the approximately 10 000 people who commute to and from the township of Alexandra daily.
"You're not going to attract investment and development into Sandton unless you can get people in and through Sandton," Tannenberger said.