Minister meets with stakeholders over BRT system

By Chris Bathembu

Pretoria -Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele is currently in a meeting with the South African National Taxi Council, the first of a series of engagements with the stakeholders affected by the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.

The meeting, currently underway in Midrand, is aimed at ironing out concerns raised by the taxi industry regarding the BRT. Taxi operators led violent protests against the system recently, claiming it would lead to job losses.

President Jacob Zuma had requested the taxi industry leadership to defer negotiations related to the operations of the Bus Integrated Rapid Transit system until after the elections to allow more time to deal properly with the concerns of the industry.

In his State of the Nation Address last week, President Jacob Zuma said there would be a series of engagements with the stakeholders affected by the BRT system.

"We are confident that unresolved issues will be dealt with to the satisfaction of all parties," the President said.

This will include the important issue of how all stakeholders will benefit from the initiative.

The BRT system was introduced in 2008 in order to deal with the increasing congestion facing Johannesburg motorists. It is designed to provide a high quality and affordable transport system, which is fast and safe.

The BRT system is a key component of the Department of Transport's integrated transport network plan which government is implementing in the 2010 FIFA World Cup host cities. It is hoped the system will promote the use of public transport ahead of the soccer spectacle.

It will also have routes leading to the training stadiums and stadiums hosting matches.

When the BRT starts operating, commuters will have access to world-class public transport at competitive prices.

The system will feature dedicated and segregated bus-only lanes, as well as bus stations that are safe, comfortable, weather-protected and friendly to disabled passengers.

It will run for 18 hours a day from 5am to 11pm and the plan is to eventually extend this to 24 hours a day.

There will be bus stations every 500 metres, with security officers and CCTV cameras linked to a BRT control room. - BuaNews