Roadmap: Getting the wheels rolling
Pretoria – Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.
In this case the “Jack” is Jack van der Merwe, the Gautrain head, and he is drawing up a nimble transport strategy for the next 25 years to 2037 at the request of the Gauteng government.
As an engineer he is entirely comfortable with the concept. Early in his career he worked on the PWV transport study which in 1970 culminated in a 55-year transport plan for the Pretoria/Witwatersrand/Vaal Triangle region.
This plan was successful in the sense that it directed township development, and identified and protected transport corridors which still exist, said Van der Merwe.
He is hoping to do the same with the new Gauteng plan.
At that time the plan included only roads. The new transport plan includes all forms of transport and focuses on public transport, said Van der Merwe.
“At the time we only counted vehicles. If 50 vehicles a day used the road, it received a number and we maintained it; if 500, then we tarred it.
“if between 3 500 and 6 500, we programmed it to become a double carriageway and if 15 000 a freeway.”
This time the team will count people.
This will make a big difference, Van der Merwe explained. The notorious Moloto Road is used by 1 286 vehicles a day – ostensibly therefore a rather quiet road. But this volume includes 800 buses which every day travel back and forth between Pretoria and Mpumalanga.
The buses transport a huge number of people, 62 000 a day which, in terms of the new method, puts the road in the category of a transport corridor where it will receive the necessary preference.
The 12 transport experts in Van der Merwe’s team include the most important players in South Africa's transport industry. They include Nazir Alli, chief executive of the South African National Road Agency Limited (Sanral) and Lucky Montana, chief executive of the South African Passenger Rail Agency (Prasa).
The plan must support the concept of Gauteng as an international urban zone, he said.
Urbanisation is a given and cities have to be economic growth points.
This happens only when infrastructure and services develop hand in hand with the city.
“As Gauteng works, it will be a magnet attracting economically active people. We want to draw Africa's talent, but in a structured manner,” said Van der Merwe.
Gauteng commuters using public transport on average switch modes of transport 3.7 times a day. Van der Merwe said the plan will prescribe minimum standards for these crossover hubs.
Another objective is for 40% of the trips in Gauteng to be non-motorised. The infrastructure should be such that one can, for example, safely ride a bicycle, said Van der Merwe.
Cabinet will soon receive a document regarding a projected transport authority to play the central role in coordinating transport within the province.
The 12 modes of transport are however only the start. A consortium of 13 firms has been put together to help with the details.
The team must make proposals about funding models and raising the money required.
It must be completed by mid-2013 and create true economic value, said Van der Merwe.
He is already busy formulating an extensive transport plan.