Rea Vaya to be operational by the end of August 2009

By Nthambeleni Gabara

Johannesburg - The first phase of the much anticipated Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System will start operating on 30 August, says Johannesburg Mayor Amos Masondo.

"I am happy to announce that on the 30 August 2009, we will be celebrating the first day of the BRT operation".

"The residents and citizens of Johannesburg are invited to share this historic moment by taking a ride on Rea Vaya, free of charge. I can confidently say that, we are now ready to go, Rea Vaya," Mayor Masondo said on Wednesday.

Mr Masondo said the City will officially launch the state-of-the-art buses as well as host a Fun Day on Sunday.

"Communities along the route are invited to join us at the Thokoza Park to find out more about Rea Vaya, to experience one of the brand-new Rea Vaya buses and simply to enjoy a day of great entertainment with some of the county's top musicians," the mayor said.

In preparation for the opening of Rea Vaya, the City is starting to close the dedicated lanes which will be used only by BRT buses.

"We appeal to the public to co-operate with us in this regard. Let's get used to the reduction in road space and start using public transport," said Mr Masondo, adding that his law enforcement will be out in full force to enforce the new system.

When Rea Vaya starts operating at the end of the month, it would be with a starter service that would gradually be built up to a full Phase 1A service over the next six months.

He said they would introduce the starter service, while they finalise negotiations with the taxi industry to establish a Bus Operating Company that will ultimately own and manage the Rea Vaya.

Mr Masondo said an interim company Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) has been established to act on behalf of the affected taxi operators and to manage Rea Vaya until negotiations are finalised.

He further said the City was making good progress in recruiting new staff for the BRT business unit. "On 1 September, the City will have in place a new BRT Project Manager as well as other senior staff members," he said.

The mayor further thanked the taxi industry, the President as well as other stakeholders who made the BRT possible.

"I wish to express our sincere gratitude and pay tribute to the taxi industry and President Jacob Zuma, who played a pivotal role in ensuring the initiation of a more inclusive process.

"This project is very complex and holds a great promise to transform the transport industry. What we need more than ever before is a partnership that is committed to improve the quality of life of all our people," Mr Masondo said.

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.

Phase 1B of the BRT system, which is due before the 2010 FIFA World Cup, will include a second Soweto route, running past the University of Johannesburg and the University of the Witwatersrand, on to Sandton.

Phase 1C will encompass the route from Alexandra to Cresta.

Visit the Rea Vaya Website for complete details!

BRT Route Map - First Phase August 2009 (PDF File)772.78 KB