Busses, trains to play major role in 2010

By Chris Bathembu

Johannesburg - Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele is upbeat about transport preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, saying buses and trains will play a major role in transporting people during the soccer spectacle.

Speaking to BuaNews on Wednesday at this year's launch of Transport Month, Ndebele was confident that government has put to rest all doubts about the country's transport capability during the tournament.

"I'm sure what you have witnessed here today is enough to convince you that indeed our transport system will be ready for the world cup tournament," Ndebele said. He was referring to the launch of the state-of-the-art Translux busses that will be used to ferry officials and fans alike during the soccer showpiece.

Government has bought at least 570 of the luxury buses and they will be managed by the Passenger Rail Management Association (PRMA) and Autopax, a company that is responsible for the Translux fleet.

Ndebele said the joint venture will not only allow fans to travel "in style" but will in the long run boost the country's transport system as the buses will be sold back to the private sector after the world cup.

"So you can see the long term benefits here. Government is not interested in running these kinds of busses, so we will be giving them back for other people to run them," he said.

Meanwhile, Ndebele also expressed his excitement on the smooth operation of the Rea Vaya buses, exactly a month later, after they were introduced in Johannesburg. "As government, we have always said that the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system is all about the commuter and after a month since we introduced Rea Vaya, commuters have actually taken ownership of the buses; they feel its theirs," Ndebele said.

He revealed that a series of meetings between government and taxi operators since the launch of BRT last month, have not been easy but that the stakeholders had committed to iron out any differences that may still exist.

"The taxi industry understands that these buses were bought by government but the ownership of the system belongs to everyone in the transport sector, including them, and slowly but surely they are starting to understand that," Ndebele said.

Transport will be celebrated throughout the month of October when attention will be given to issues associated with the country's public transport system. - BuaNews