South Africa, as a country, had to ask itself some “serious questions” about bus-rapid transit (BRT) systems, Gauteng Roads and Transport MEC Dr Ismail Vadi said on Monday.
Speaking at the Southern African Transport Conference (SATC) in Pretoria, he said that the three BRT systems in Gauteng – in Tshwane, Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni – built at a collective cost of around R10-billion, were transporting roughly 75 000 people a day, with around 65 000 of these people in Johannesburg alone.
When looking at the whole of South Africa, Vadi said the figures were probably closer to an investment of R15-billion spent to transport 120 000 people a day.
He said it was necessary to question whether government was “getting value for money” in building BRT systems; whether it was necessary to build “big, expensive, median bus stations”, and whether it was necessary to make use of expensive, big-brand buses.
“Is this the way to go? Is this cost-effective?”
He also questioned the fact that purchased bus fleets were standing idle while matters such as community and taxi dissatisfaction remained unresolved.
Vadi said it had become necessary to “look at reducing the cost of BRT systems and to pick up ridership”.
In his address at the SATC, Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi echoed Vadi’s sentiments, acknowledging that there “were challenges with BRT systems” in South Africa.
He said it was perhaps necessary to “rethink and redesign” BRT systems so that they could stop “draining money from the fiscus”.
“Commuters are not using it. They are resorting to the same taxis they are complaining about.
“If we need to scale it down, we’ll do that.”