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Tuesday Apr 17, 2012

Rea Vaya spreads its wings with new 18km route

Joburg university students, hospital staff and patients, and media workers finally have a cause to celebrate.

The City of Joburg's new Rea Vaya bus rapid transit route, Phase 1B, which is expected to be operational by the second quarter of next year, has been designed with them very much in mind.

The infrastructure is almost complete, and last week the City of Joburg and affected taxi and bus operators signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the operation of the new 18km route.

The 10-station bus ride starts in Noordgesig, Soweto, runs through Pennyville and New Canada, past Highgate and along Stanley Avenue, then Kingsway and Empire roads, to Parktown, and on to the Joburg Metro Centre in Braamfontein. From there it goes along Rissik Street to join the Rea Vaya Phase 1A link in downtown Joburg.

There is a station in front of Wits University on Empire Road, with another a short distance away. Two more stations stand adjacent to the SABC building in Auckland Park, with another a kilometre away, opposite the University of Johannesburg and Helen Joseph Hospital. Pupils from Hoƫrskool Vorentoe and users of the Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital have stations in front of their premises as well.

The MOU, signed by Joburg mayor Parks Tau and bus and taxi operators, marks the start of good-faith negotiations with the public transport operators who will run the route for 12 years.

A joint statement issued by the council and bus and taxi operators states: "(The agreement) commits all parties to engage and negotiate in good faith and sets out the roles and responsibilities of each party in this process. Since the inception of Rea Vaya, the city has been committed to implementing the new public transport system in partnership with affected public transport operators, including the minibus taxi industry.

"In engaging particularly those operators who were previously disadvantaged to become part of the bus operating company, the city recognises that significant effort is required to support these operators to be able to run a viable and sustainable bus operating company which is in the interests of service delivery and good governance."

The memorandum further states that the council will once again assist the operators with technical and other support to ensure that they engage with the city on a level playing field. It will also provide a project office for them. The affected parties were first consulted in 2010, followed by an intensive engagement process.

"The agreement represents a firm commitment by all affected parties to meaningfully engage with one another to arrive at a mutually satisfactory position to achieve not only the goals of excellent service to passengers, but also broad transformation within the public transport sector as a whole," says the statement.

Eric Motshwane, corporate affairs director of Piotrans, the company which operates the Soweto/cbd route, said the agreement would usher in negotiations. "We welcome the opening of the second route, which marks transformation in public transport and a change for commuters."

The areas covered include Soweto, Richmond, Melville, Westbury, Riverlea, Bosmont, Brixton, Coronationville, New Canada, Pennyville, Crosby, Newclare and Noordgesig.

The Star

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