The latest state of transport opinion poll South Africa (TOPSA) shows that public transport is considered unsafe, unreliable, ineffective or unaffordable by South Africans. According to the poll, education is perceived to be the highest priority in the country, followed closely by health and transport.
TOPSA is an annual survey, intended to gauge public opinion on transport issues in South Africa. It comprises telephonic interviews conducted with 1,000 respondents, aged 18 and over. Of these respondents, 59% were male and 41% were female. Almost two-thirds (65%) were aged between 31 and 50, with the majority living in metropolitan areas. 70% were employed in some form. 74% of respondents said transport is a high priority in the country, with public transport consistently cited as the most pressing issue therein.
Hot topics within public transport include insufficiency, poor quality of services, and unsatisfactory transport availability. Respondents highlighted transport safety, taxi-related issues, the quality of roads and transport costs as leading concerns. Many also expressed concerns around e-tolls.
Positivity around BRT
The condition of the country’s roads was of most concern to respondents in Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and Limpopo. Bus rapid transit (BRT) services were generally positively received.
According to TOPSA, most South Africans believe the state of transport in their local areas is worse or unchanged from the year before. In 2015, only 35% felt local transport had improved. Reasons given for the perceived worsening state of transport include the need for more public transport, issues with taxis, and infrastructure shortfalls.
Private sector involvement
Most respondents feel that national government plays the leading role in the transport sector and that the private sector should be far more involved in the provision of public transport while 53.6% indicated toll roads are a good way of financing new roads or maintaining existing roads.
Metropolitan areas appear to recognise a higher level of non-adherence to traffic laws than do their counterparts in other settlement areas. Improvement of law enforcement and road safety requires stricter enforcement and more traffic officers. Although generally satisfied with BRT systems, users appear to be losing confidence in most of the other services that were measured.
TOPSA indicates a general belief that the state of transport in South Africa is deteriorating. It does not conclude whether or not a culture of non-adherence to traffic laws exists. Respondents further believe there is a need for more and better-trained traffic officers.