eThekwini plans to strengthen its public transport system by undertaking a tour to study Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Systems in South America.

The Executive Committee has tabled a report stating that the head of the eThekwini Transport Authority will lead a delegation of city officials, councillors, bus operators and minibus taxi operators on a study tour to South America.

The aim of the tour is to expose the industry to BRT systems that are fully operational in a number of cities. This will allow the delegation to observe first-hand and gain insights into the services through interactions with the bus operating companies and fare collection operations.

South America was chosen because the circumstances are very similar to South Africa and public transport operators function in a similar manner to the taxi and small bus operators in South Africa. They were informal with an over-supply of vehicles which led to destructive competition and violence. South America’s approach was to incentivise the sector through the transition into formal contracted services on a conditional basis.

Transforming Go!Durban

The report states that for an effective transition to the fully integrated services offered by the Go!Durban project, it would be prudent and highly responsible of the city to expose the industry to fully functional integrated systems operating elsewhere in the world.

The report goes on to state that the current operators of public transport in the city would – through a process of negotiations and conclusion of a contract – be the providers of transformed public transport services. These operators consisting of the minibus taxi industry and private bus operators would need extensive knowledge and understanding of the Integrated Public Transport Network (IPTN) and BRT contracted operations.

This would assist in achieving the city’s transport vision of providing a sustainable transport system that moves all its people and goods effectively and safely, which is critical to the city’s social and economic development.

The estimated budget for the trip is R2 million, which will be fully funded from the Public Transport Network Grant funding. On their return, the delegation will prepare a report and present key learnings from the visit for officials involved in the Go!Durban programme.