Reclaiming the streets of Jozi
Johannesburg – Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau says the city has officially started to reclaim its streets to resolve congestion and greenhouse gas emissions concerns that are increasingly threatening both the environment and economic health of the city.
Mayor Tau was speaking at the close of the month-long EcoMobility World Festival 2015, which was held in Sandton.
He said the objective of hosting the EcoMobility Festival was never about coercing people to use public transport but they wanted to highlight the compelling global reasons everyone should contribute to the decongestion of urban centres.
Mayor Tau said they also wanted to use the festival to promote social cohesion.
“By hosting the festival, Johannesburg had set out to encourage people who live and work in the same city to also share the same public spaces. We wanted people to travel in the same modes of transport and interact with our urban landscape in a similar manner,” he said.
He said a survey was conducted and it revealed that private vehicles used to travel into the Sandton CBD dropped from 90% to 68%. The Gautrain was largely the preferred mode of transport and its use increased by 8% during the festival.
Cycling in the city also increased slightly by between 6% and 7%. He said the important role of the taxi industry within the city's transport mix has also been underlined over the past four weeks.
“We are proud of the partnership that we secured during the festival to provide the very popular mini bus taxi shuttles around the public transport loop.
“We will soon put out a request for proposals to construct a new holding facility for minibus taxis. A facility to accommodate metered taxis is set to be completed within the next three years at the Sandton Gautrain station,” he said.
Mayor Tau thanked the residents of Sandton for accommodating the activities around the festival.
“I want to thank the residents who live in Sandton and those who keep the wheels of commerce and industry turning. Thank you for your understanding, your patience and willingness to consider alternatives to the way in which you move.”
Mayor Tau said hosting the festival proved that there is a need for safe, affordable and an accessible integrated public transport network. He said the city is working towards extending Rea Vaya and the Metrobus service.
“We are also looking into linkages with the Gautrain and its Gautrain buses, as well as minibus taxi services to create an integrated public transport system,” said Mayor Tau.
He said non-motorised forms of transport such as walking and cycling can and should feature prominently in the mixture of future transport solutions for the city.
“We are furthermore doubling our efforts to establish dedicated cycle paths on various routes across Johannesburg. We are also working on improving safety through CCTV cameras, marshals and law enforcement to protect the interests of cyclists.”
Park and rides will continue at Brightwater Commons, Montecasino, Westgate and Emperors Palace, with Metrobus and Gautrain continuing to operate their express or non-stop buses in those areas during peak periods.
“By June 2016, we will have completed new cycle lanes and widened sidewalks for pedestrians on both sides of West and Maude Streets. A permanent cycling lane will also connect Rosebank and Sandton,” said the Mayor.
He also said the construction of the 5km dedicated walking and cycling lane between Alexandra and Sandton, including a bridge over the M1 at Grayston, continues.
“We welcome the Department of Labour’s decision to host an inquiry while we continue with our independent investigation,” said the Mayor of the scaffolding collapse.
He said the city has received many requests for the continued implementation of the express lanes from Randburg and Fourways to Sandton.
“Within five months we will be reintroducing it along Republic, William Nicol and Sandton Drive in a permanent way which will be safer and may not only accommodate public transport but also car pools,” he said.
More private car owners are encouraged to make use of public transport and non-motorised forms of transport.