BRT goes ahead as planned - Mayor Masondo

Johannesburg - Mayor Amos Masondo says the re-launch of the Bus Rapid Transit system in major parts of Soweto where the system was suspended earlier this year will go ahead as planned next week.

Several bus operations were suspended in Soweto soon after the BRT was launched following objection from the taxi industry.

Masondo said on Thursday the new buses are expected to begin operating in various routes of the township from Monday following an agreement between the City of Johannesburg and major players in the taxi industry.

Delivering his state of the city address, Masondo said he remained optimistic that the challenges that were encountered during the initial stage of BRT have been dealt with and that authorities were ready to roll out the system in all major routes around the city.

"We have reached a remarkable degree of consensus on all aspects of BRT including the new routes the new buses will be traveling and we appreciate the participation of the taxi industry, both owners and drivers," Masondo said.

Since the implementation of the BRT system, passenger trips have reflected a steady growth, averaging 16 000 to 16 500 trips per day during October and November while the December trips exceeded normal bus business trends over the festive season.

Meanwhile, Masondo's two-hour long speech focused on the strides and challenges that Johannesburg, the country's economic power house, had faced in light of the recent global economic recession.

He said he was aware that his municipality, being the hardest hit by the recent wave of service delivery protests, would have to work hard to meet the objectives set out in the comprehensive turn around strategy for local government approved by Cabinet last year.

The strategy seeks to ensure that municipalities become more effective amid reported backlogs in housing and other infrastructure development needs in most of the country's 183 municipalities. - BuaNews