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Friday Dec 28, 2012

The next phase of Joburg's Rea Vaya waiting for the go-ahead

The routes have been outlined. The stations have been built. The artworks and greenery are in place.

But what is left now for the new Rea Vaya Phase 1B are talks, talks and more talks.

Mfundo Ketye's on the Rea Vaya station near the SABC in Auckland Park.

Phase 1B is the new 18km, 10-station bus ride from Thokoza Park, Soweto, to the Joburg CBD.

It runs via Noordgesig 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 the city centre.

In addition to the 143 buses running on Phase 1A, 143 buses will run on the new route.

But, while the new stations might appear ready, there is still some way to go before the system is launched in the middle of next year.

"We've been involved in very long talks about (having) talks because Phase 1B is slightly more complicated than 1A as it includes minibus taxi operators from both the top six and greater Joburg taxi associations as well as bus companies such as Putco and potentially, Metrobus," said Rehana Moosajee, member of the mayoral committee for transport.

"So the discussions are more complicated as they involve a higher number of potentially affected operators."

She explained that they also had to use a different methodology than Phase 1A - which began running in 2009 - because in that instance, they were able to say that 585 taxi vehicles needed to be handed in to make way for the new buses, but with the new route, they had to look at converting the number of bus seats instead because buses had a larger number of seats.

"It's likely to be some tough negotiations because they include the extent of shareholding (and) the fee per kilometre the city should pay... so there are some important discussions that need to take place, but we are looking and targeting very optimistically to have the system launched by mid-2013," Moosajee added.

The transport committee said the City of Joburg was trying to promote local manufacturing in bus content, and ordering buses fully imported was "not an option".

"There's lots and lots of work to be done. From taking the negotiations through to identification of drivers, training of drivers, identification of shareholders...

"If there's a need for scraping of vehicles, that has to be facilitated," Moosajee said.

Between Phase 1A and 1B, to date, the total cost of the systems has been R3.5 billion.

And while University of Johannesburg students will have to wait until June to receive the full benefits of the new transport system, Moosajee said that at the start of the university's orientation week next year, Rea Vaya would have a presence at the campuses to give students a sense of what Phase 1A is and the routes that will go past the institution.

In terms of the beautification of the stations, seven local artists - Bronwen Findlay, Jan Tshikhuthula, John Moore, Lucas Nkgweng, Mfundo Ketye, Craig Smith and Nelson Makamo - had been commissioned to do designs relevant to the area and context of each station, or adapt existing artwork.

The designs were either sandblasted or spray-stencilled on the glass panels or laser-cut and painted on to the steel sheets.

On the corner of Kingsway and Henley roads in Auckland Park, four women are portrayed as bending over their laundry buckets.

Ketye, from Soweto, said the piece reflected what he came across in the township constantly - washing lines full of clothing.

He said he was struck by the contrast between washing in the townships and in the suburbs.

"In the townships you see upmarket clothing brands like Diesel and Paul Smith but in the wealthier suburbs there are more downmarket brands."

Moosajee added: "We also, through the Johannesburg Development Agency, are keen to give stations local character and local flavour and content.

"For example, going to Orlando you have paintings of June 16 and the student uprisings and artists' interpretations of what that area is about.

"And there's also the physical upgrade of street furniture, benches and shelters.

"Part of our vision is to change the perception of public transport as areas of crime and grime to attractive areas that attract great public space for communities to meet."

The Star


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