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City of Johannesburg considers ditching some taxi services to reduce traffic congestion

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa  – In an effort to reduce traffic congestion, the City of Joburg (CoJ) is planning to replace some of its minibus taxi services with the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, with owners of the affected taxi services becoming shareholders.

Speaking during a two-hour webinar on Monday morning, the city’s acting chief of metro police, Angela Mokasi, said traffic congestion had become a nightmare due to power failures, load-shedding, cable theft and scheduled maintenance.

Mokasi said their work was made more difficult as they have to police the city’s 2,121 intersections with only 260 traffic officers and 93 vehicles.

Location technology company TomTom early this year released the results of its latest Traffic Index, detailing the traffic data of 416 cities in 57 countries.

TomTom named Cape Town as the city with the worst traffic in the country (101st), followed by Johannesburg (121st) and Pretoria (207th). East London is fourth followed by Durban and Bloemfontein.

TomTom estimated that drivers in Cape Town and Johannesburg will both spend an average of 20 to 21 extra minutes per 30-minute morning trip stuck in traffic. The company says people can likewise expect to spend an extra 20 minutes per 30-minute evening trip.

City of Johannesburg director of planning and policy development Daisy Dwango said Joburg contributed 56% to national carbon emissions and the transport sector has the highest demand for energy (67%).

Dwango said the city’s growth and development strategy 2040 looked at radically increasing public transport use.

She said the city’s short to medium plan was the stabilisation of provincial subsidised bus services and the metro bus system, aligning fare management system with that of Rea Vaya.

She said they were also looking at piloting the incorporation of minibus taxis into the EMV-based integrated fare system, where commuters could pay using cards instead of cash. They were also looking at:

  • improving the regulatory environment;
  • stronger law enforcement; and
  • providing good facilities for minibus taxis.

She said they were also looking at introducing a cycling programme for university students and school pupils, which would involve an increase in the availability of bicycles, making cycling “cool” through awareness and mindset change and amending relevant technical roads standards and planning requirements.

Dwango said they were also looking at promoting ride-sharing and promotion of flexitime, variable working hours and trip reduction.

“We are looking at restricting entry of certain vehicles into certain areas and/or at certain times,” she added.

As part of the traffic management and intelligent transport systems, Dwango said the city was looking at improvements to signalised intersections, such as:

  • remotely controlled traffic signals;
  • replacing cables and placing them in waterproof sleeves;
  • replacing the traffic signal controllers with new adaptive controllers so green time can be adjusted according to real traffic flow;
  • introducing uninterrupted power supply; and
  • monitoring of the city using CCTV cameras – observed on screens at the Traffic Management Centre and used to deploy JMPD to incidents.

A report by the transport directorate in the City of Cape Town states that traffic congestion costs the city R2.8bn a year. The failure of people, goods and services to reach their destination in time leads to lower jobs growth, loss of productivity and decreased attractiveness for investment.

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