Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT)
The BRT Programme is the road-based component of the BRT Public Transport Strategy that was approved by Cabinet in March 2007. It is designed to move large numbers of people to all parts of a city quickly and safely.
The aim of the BRT system is to link different parts of a city into a network. Government wants to ensure that by 2020, most city residents are no more than 500 m away from a BRT station.
The system will feature dedicated bus-only lanes, as well as bus stations that are safe, comfortable, protected from the weather and friendly to passengers with special needs, such as children, the elderly, the sight and hearing impaired. It will run for 18 hours a day from 5:00 to 23:00. The plan is to eventually extend this to 24 hours a day.
It is part of a public-private partnership in which cities build and maintain the infrastructure, stations, depots, control centres and a fare collection system. Private operators own and manage the buses, hire staff and provide services on a long-term contract.
BRT systems combine the best features of rail with the flexibility and cost advantages of road-based transport, and have the added advantage of being easier and faster to build than a light rail transport system.
Existing bus and taxi operators will feed into the public transport system and enter into long-term contracts with the relevant municipality. Fares will be administrated using a smartcard system to ensure commuters can afford them. The contract service will be paid per kilometre.
Progress with roll-out
In 2013/14 over R5,5 billion was spent in up to 13 cities on planning, building and operating integrated public transport networks. Both Johannesburg and Cape Town constructed over 20 km of dedicated bus lanes on which services are operated, supported by over 100 km of complementary, feeder and distributor services. In 2013/14, both Cape Town and Johannesburg expanded operations on Phase 1 Rea Vaya and My CiTi services to carry up to 100 000 passenger trips a day on each system. Nelson Mandela Municipality’s Libhongo Lethu continued to run a pilot service on its upgraded network.
Constructionbegan in four more cities, namely, Tshwane, eThekwini, Rustenburg and Mbombela. Each city offers some unique and innovative approaches to the development of quality public transport networks.
George municipality was a new entrant to the public transport network development enterprise and during the course of the next two years George will complete its full city-wide network on a more modest scale than the networks being constructed in the metropolitan areas.
Buffalo City, Ekurhuleni, Mangaung, Msunduzi and Polokwane completed their public transport network development planning and service contract designs during 2013/14 and will start with network development in 2014/15. The integrated public transport networks in the 13 municipalities must be universally accessible in line with the Department of Transport’s obligations under the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, 2000 (Act 4 of 2000) and national commitments made under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which South Africa signed in full in 2007.
- The new route runs from Soweto and passes through Noordegesig, New Canada, Pennyville, Bosmont, Coronationville, Newclare, Westbury, Westdene, Melville, Auckland Park and Parktown, and it links to the CBD.
- The faster, safer and cost-effective Rea Vaya bus service is exceeding its daily target of transporting 80 000 passengers daily.
- The new services will be using 134 new buses, which have also been manufactured locally.
- Residents and students will be able to travel to universities and hospitals much easier with Rea Vaya.
- The introduction of the Rea Vaya smart card is another innovation that commuters can use to pay for travel easily and safely.
In May 2011, Johannesburg’s Rea Vaya BRT was honoured with an Encouragement Award for promoting the use of public transport in Johannesburg at the Public Transport Congress, hosted by the International Association of Public Transport in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Rea Vaya buses transport an average of over 30 000 people to and from work daily. The buses give residents of Soweto and the southern parts of Johannesburg direct access to the inner city and surrounding areas. The buses run at regular intervals on dedicated lanes, combating trafﬁc congestion and improving the quality of public transport.
In addition, the Rea Vaya buses run on low-sulphur diesel, with the most advanced pollution-reduction equipment.