The City of Cape Town has unveiled a multi billion rand public transport plan to alleviate traffic congestion, reduce transport times and stimulate new developments in the Cape metropole.
City of Cape Town Executive Mayor, Helen Zille, said at the annual Business meets the City of Cape Town symposium on Wednesday 21 May 2008, the public transport plan is one of the City's most important legacy projects.
The new Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system offers benefits similar to a light rail system but at one twentieth of the cost. It will consist of dedicated bus and taxi lanes on a number of routes across the city. The system also provides for the reorganisation of the bus and taxi industry according to a smart card system for all modes of public transport.
The first phase of the new BRT system which will initially cover the Cape Town Central Business District and link to the Cape Town International Airport, will cost R2,8 billion. It will be completed in time for the 2010 Soccer World Cup and expanded onto other city routes after 2010.
The system, which was initially devised for developing countries, has been introduced successfully in several South American cities, as well major developed cities such as Paris in France, Los Angeles in the United States and Brisbane in Australia.
The City plan has been devised in co-operation with the provincial and national government, which have provisionally pledged R836 million towards the scheme.
"The idea is to create a self-sustaining, safe, reliable and affordable system, funded by an increased number of users. The goal is to get 20% of commuters out of their cars. This will result in doing away with the present annual provincial bus subsidy of R480 million.
"The SA Rail Commuter Corporation (SARCC) is investing heavily in better trains and stations, while the City is working to improve safety at train stations and transport interchanges by establishing secure precincts, with dedicated security guards which also offer protection against the weather," she says.
The BRT business plan still needs to be discussed by the city's portfolio committees and with various stakeholders. The City Council will take the final decision.
Mayor Zille also announced plans to introduce municipal bonds. The City plans to raise up to R7 billion to finance infrastructure development in Cape Town. The first issue will take place on 18 June.
In his reply, Dr Gerald Wolman, President of the Cape Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry, applauded the success of the City's copper cable theft task team, also known as the Copperheads.
"This City initiative is the result of a request from business at the previous symposium. The City of Cape Town acted immediately and hosted a summit which led to the establishment of the Copperheads. This unit has save the City millions of rand," he said.