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Wednesday Sep 26, 2012

Big changes ahead for Cape public transport

The City of Cape Town says it will make substantial changes to public transport should it get the go-ahead from national government to take over the running of rail and bus services.

Among these changes would be cheaper fares and city law enforcement officers travelling on buses and trains. The city says it would also introduce penalties for sloppy service while all public transport areas would be monitored by camera surveillance.

It says it expects to spend R15 million on new staff in the first year of the new set-up.

The city will soon apply for the contract authority of Golden Arrow. This application is to the national government and falls under the National Land Transport Act. At the moment, the provincial government handles the Golden Arrow subsidy.

Next month, the city officially launches it's Transport Authority.

Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater, said all public transport in Cape Town would fall under this authority.

The first step in the municipality gaining complete control over public transport services is receiving the Golden Arrow subsidy.

Herron, pictured, said if the national government gave the go-ahead, the transfer would happen in April 2013.

One of the biggest changes would be how people pay for their travelling.

"We envisage a new fare structure, based on distance travelled, using the myconnect card, regardless of the modes used. Ultimately this should reduce travel costs for commuters."

At the moment, if a resident from Mitchells Plain wants to get to Table View, they could end up paying for different sets of journeys. "They board a bus or train in Mitchells Plain, heading towards the city centre. Once they reach the CBD, they can use the MyCiTi bus to get to Table View. They end up paying two different fares."

Herron sketched the future scenario: "We would like to see this as one journey. You tap in at Mitchells Plain and you tap out at Table View and you pay one fare based on the distancebased fare system.

"This will involve changing the fare structures for public transport. It will take time to get there, but this is part of the plan for an enhanced public transport service."

There are also plans for a law enforcement presence on buses and trains. The city is already entering into an agreement with the Passenger Rail Agency of SA. At the moment, city law enforcement does not have authority on the rail system.

Through the new agreement this will change.

Herron said "increased transport law enforcement" was one of the city and Metrorail's action priorities. This means officers will soon be able to patrol on the trains.

"We already deploy a specialised public transport law enforcement unit on our MyCiTi buses and dedicated lanes. The proposal is thus to extend this and that extension could include Golden Arrow where necessary."

Cape Argus

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