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NDP: Prioritise commuter interests

Aug 15 2012 17:14 Sapa

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Cape Town - Commuters' interests need to be placed above those of transport providers, in terms of the revised National Development Plan (NDP) tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.

According to the document it is crucial to strengthen governance and efficiency of the urban transport sector.

"Nowhere is this more evident than in the bus rapid transport system, which has demonstrated the potential of high-quality mass transit systems while also showing it is critically important to align social interests with technical solutions."

The Johannesburg bus rapid transit project incorporated taxi owners - a milestone in formalising the taxi industry as a transport operator.

"During 2011, however, striking drivers halted this transport system. As public transport must be dependable, authorities will have to create reliable services by placing commuters' interests above the sectarian concerns of transport providers, while also allowing these services to be economically sustainable businesses," it says.

Fixing problems with bus systems is a priority given the significant financial and spatial investments made to date, and the potential such a system represents for qualitatively better public transport.

Devolving transport management to local government would help align the fragmented and conflicting interests of multiple transport authorities, each with separate funding sources and mandates.

However, handing responsibility for transport to municipal authorities will only succeed if it is accompanied by strengthening institutions and alignment of legislation, policy and practice.

On incentives for public-transport use, the document says public-transport subsidies will increase affordability for low-income commuters.

Mounting costs for private car users (tolls and projected higher fuel costs), together with prioritising the flow of public transport vehicles on roads, might encourage motorists to use public transport.

Public-transport solutions should extend services to captive transport users while winning custom from those who have options. This will require a public transport system that has the capacity, frequency, coverage, and safety performance required to compete with the benefits of having a privately owned car.

The Gautrain has shown public transport is an option for commuters who can afford to use cars. But, even with greatly expanded public transport, city dwellers will still use cars.

Transport authorities will need to plan and invest in road and transport infrastructure construction, maintenance, and oversight, and integration with public services, while using technology, such as intelligent traffic signalling, to maximise traffic flow.

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national planning commission  |  brt  |  transport
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