The City of Johannesburg has allocated R60-million to its Metrobus company to buy new buses in the coming financial year.
Transport MMC Funzela Ngobeni says the new bus purchases are part of a longer-term strategy to renew the entity’s fleet.
It is internationally accepted that a bus will have a useful lifespan of 12 years; however, owing to historical financial challenges, Metrobus finds itself with a significant number of buses operating in excess of 15 years and up to 21 years.
The planning process for procurement of the new buses will begin in the current financial year – 2022/23. Ngobeni estimates that the lead time between the placement of an order and the delivery of new buses by manufacturers will be between six and ten months.
While the R60-million allocation will enable Metrobus to begin the process of renewing its fleet, it is far from the R450-million the entity had initially requested.
Ngobeni states his commitment to seek a sustainable solution in bridging the gap between the funds requested and the funds allocated, including alternative funding mechanisms and revenue-generating initiatives.
“Owing to budgetary constraints affecting every government sphere, department and entity, I recognise that the changes I have been entrusted to oversee at Metrobus will have to be incremental but I am confident that we will make progress in improving Johannesburg residents’ experience of Metrobus’ services,” Ngobeni says.
In fact, Metrobus has just concluded a successful three-year bus refurbishment programme. By the end of June, the entity had completely refurbished 105 buses against a target of 100 buses, at a cost of R49.4-million, against a project budget allocation of R49.8-million.
During the 2021/22 financial year, 35 buses were refurbished, translating to R19.7-million spent against a budget of R20-million. These buses are currently being used to operate most of the Metrobus trips.
A further R22-million has been allocated in the new financial year to refurbish additional buses.