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Wednesday Oct 23, 2013

Hout Bay residents object to MyCiTi bus facility

With just weeks to go to the launch of the Hout Bay MyCiTi route, residents say an overnight bus facility may be a 'magnet' for violent protest action if existing operators object to the new service in the area.

Hout Bay residents are trying to stop this vacant land from becoming a MyCiTi bus depot.

The City of Cape Town is to erect a bus facility on the corner of Melkhout Crescent and the Promenade near the beachfront where 14 buses can park overnight. This would save the city considerable time, and money on 'dead mileage' as the buses would not have to return to the Green Point depot each day.

Without this overnight facility, the city's operating costs would be pushed up by R2 444 400 to R3 024 000 a year.

The city, which in this case is both the registered owner and applicant, as well as the deciding authority, has made it clear that there will be no refuelling, washing, repairs or maintenance of the buses on the site. These conditions have been included in the conditions of approval. The Good Hope sub-council, which manages the Hout Bay area, approved the application on condition that the facility would only be for overnight use.

But some residents and businesses are concerned this would add to traffic congestion as the Promenade is the only exit road from the beach. There were 25 objections to the application, mostly relating to traffic congestion and the site's smallness. Most of them said that while they supported the introduction of the MyCiTi to Hout Bay, they were not convinced that the Promenade was the best site. There were also fears that it would negatively affect the value of neighbouring properties.

Wanda Ellison, who owns a business opposite the proposed bus facility, said it would detract from the character of the area, which includes the historic fishermen's cottages. It would also restrict pedestrian movement. She said the city had not fully explored other less intrusive sites.

Another objector said he was concerned that protests about the MyCiTi service could become violent. It was therefore 'irresponsible' to have a city bus depot close to a residential area. This was echoed by a resident who said the potential for conflict between taxi operators and bus drivers was a 'worrying factor'.

But Ron Haiden, the city's integrated rapid transit infrastructure manager, said the existing buses and taxi services would diminish in phases as the MyCiTi service expanded.

He said most of the alternative sites were unsuitable because they were too close to the beach and at risk of being overrun by metres of sand. Construction too close to the beach would also trigger environmental impact assessments.

Haiden said an alternative site near the harbour would have worked, but it was already earmarked for a housing development. 'This is the best that we've got.'
The development will comprise a secure and paved parking area for the buses, with fencing and lighting, as well as a one-storey rest area and ablution facility for drivers and the onsite security guard.

Cape Argus


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