Buses, trains shunned in favour of cars, taxis, reveals Gauteng travel survey

15th October 2020 By: Irma Venter - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Buses, trains shunned in favour of cars, taxis, reveals Gauteng travel survey

Low capacity transport modes, such as minibus taxis and private cars, have become the backbone of the transport network in the Gauteng province, as opposed to high-capacity modes, such as rail and buses.

This is one of the main findings of the 2019/20 Gauteng Household Transport Survey (GHTS), conducted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), on behalf of the Gauteng government – and directly opposed to the vision set out in the province’s 25-year Integrated Transport Management Plan, which views rail as the backbone of the province’s transport network.

CSIR transport systems and operations competence area manager Dr Mathetha Mokonyama says that minibus taxis account for 23% of all peak-period trips in the province, with private cars at 22%.

Buses and trains account for 5% of all trips.

Mokonyama says respondents to the GHTS indicated that buses and train are either not available, infrequent, of inaccessible for the trips required.

He notes that formation of the Transport Authority of Gauteng could remedy this situation, as it could, for example, ensure that all municipalities plan coherently around the province’s transport needs, and not just with their own needs in mind.

This is important, as intra-municipal travel remains high, at close to 90%, according to the GHTS.

The survey found that public transport is the most expensive in Ekurhuleni.

Also, increased East – West movement in Gauteng implies a need for urgent capacity enhancement.

This said, however, walking remains the predominant mode of travel in Gauteng, with over 29% of trips in the peak period being described as “walking all the way”, says Mokonyama.

This means that Gauteng needs to become serious about non-motorised transport (NMT), he notes. The province has asset management systems for roads and bridges, but not for NMT assets, such as sidewalks and pedestrian-friendly crossings.

“The systematic delivery of NMT infrastructure is critical for improved transport service delivery,” says Mokonyama.

He adds that walking time to access the first public transport service has increased from nine minutes in the 2014 GHTS, to 14 minutes in the 2019/20 survey. 

Accessing the final destination from public transport has increased from eight to 14 minutes.

Accessing train services takes the longest.

This means that the provision of feeder services, to trains, in particular, is becoming critically important, says Mokonyama, as is locating settlements close to public transport nodes.

All in all, total average travel time in Gauteng has increased from 46 minutes in 2014, to 57 minutes in 2019/20.

Average travel time over the past 18 years has almost doubled, says Mokonyama.

“Therefore, there is a need to increase network capacity, particularly higher-capacity public transport infrastructure and services.”

He notes that the proportion of household income spent on public transport has also increased.

Nearly 60% of households spent more than 10% of their income on public transport in 2019, up from 55% in 2014.

Mokonyama says the newest GHTS indicates that households are more satisfied than dissatisfied with bus and train services, with their dissatisfaction related to issues of accessibility. 

Households tend to be more dissatisfied than satisfied with minibus taxis, particularly relating to safety.

Looking ahead, Mokonyama says there is a need for better financing models for public transport, as operators “are really struggling, from the numbers we have seen”.

Stop Attacking Other Modes, MEC Tells Taxis
Gauteng Public Transport and Roads Infrastructure MEC Jacob Mamabolo highlights that it is clear that Gauteng commuters to not regard minibus taxis as a safe mode of transport.

He adds that it is not acceptable for certain sections of the taxi industry to attack other modes of transport, such as buses and driving clubs, which they see as competition for the taxi industry.

“I want to make a plea to the taxi industry to study the report and to understand the conditions commuters are facing, and to understand the factors that are at the core of what is reduced demand for taxi trips, and to not resolve these matters by violence.

“It has nothing to do with the buses. It has nothing to do with other modes of transport. It is a reality on the ground.” 

The 2019/20 GHTS is the result of interviews conducted with 31 311 households in Gauteng. It is the third survey of its kind, with the previous two conducted in 2000 and 2014.

The purpose of the survey, says Mokonyama, is to assist with evidence-led transport planning in the province, as well as to continuously measure the performance of the transport system.