Ndebele hails launch of BRT

By Chris Bathembu

Johannesburg - Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele has hailed the launch of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, saying an effective public transport system remained a key to South Africa's economic growth and development.

Speaking at the officially launch of the BRT on Sunday, Minister Ndebele said gone are the days where public transport was a luxury saying it was now a necessity.

"Without public transport, a country wallows in underdevelopment, a country settles in economic degeneration," he said.

Hundreds of locals turned up at the Westgate Station in to witness the launch of the BRT which will officially operate in Johannesburg on Monday morning.

Also present at the launch were Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, Johannesburg Mayor Amos Masondo and Transport Deputy Minister Jeremy Cronin.

"The right to travel, and move about, cannot be restricted by the absence of adequate transportation.

"Today we start a special journey, today we take a step towards improving the quality of life for all our people," Minister Ndebele said.

He noted that an estimated 43 million people in South Africa depended on public transport.

The minister said many people had worked hard to ensure the launch of the BRT takes place.

He reiterated that no jobs will be lost in the taxi industry as a result of the introduction of the BRT.

"People will not lose their jobs … we call for a leap of faith on the part of the taxi industry, the public and the stakeholders who may not yet share this vision with us."

Minister Ndebele said the taxi industry was still operated along "apartheid policies" which dictated that towns and cities should be "white by night".

"So when darkness falls taxi owners are done for the day leaving the public without transport at night," he said.

The state, he said, remains obliged to enable the provision of an affordable, safe and reliable public transport system.

Modelled on Columbia's public transport system, Rea Vaya will include 143 new buses that will operate between 5am and 11pm daily, at a frequency of three minutes in peak times and every 10 minutes during off-peak times.

Commuters will pay R3 for a trip in the inner city, and R8 for a full trip, with any number of transfers for two hours.

Tickets will be available at the stations and other vendors, with drivers not handling any money, thereby ensuring a much speedier service. - BuaNews