Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has fallen behind in implementing the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.
This is according to Bill Campbell of the department of transport. He said Bloemfontein is one of the cities that received the public network grant from national treasury after the department had required cities to submit information revealing their performance in implementing the BRT.
Campbell was speaking about the public transport network monitoring process and performance indicators at the 34th Southern African Transport Conference in Pretoria. He said the city has great potential because the township of Mangaung is very close to the economic hub of the city, therefore automatically blending itself to the BRT system.
"I provided Mangaung Municipality with a BRT pilot study in 2007. The non-development is going to show that the municipality has many changes of staff, it doesn’t have a politician who is pushing the system and has wasted the opportunity. I think the big problem of South Africans is that we are learners and we still don’t have the expertise or the energy to get up to speed. Until we can change the shape of our cities, the revenue doesn’t come without a cost," he said.
Campbell said BRT is just a device that lets people using public transport move quickly in a city where there is congestion. He added that Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu are long distance commuting towns and it will still be very expensive travelling to Bloemfontein.
Meanwhile, when the BRT was introduced in the country, the department of transport made it clear that BRT is crucial to the success of South Africa’s transport system and without a good bus service that is accessible, affordable and attractive to a broad range of people across society, local transport simply cannot work.
Bus Rapid Transit is a mass road-based public transport system that mimics rail systems. It is a high-quality, customer-orientated transport system which will deliver fast, comfortable, and low-cost urban mobility with a modern, efficient and comfortable service to public transport users.
Furthermore, chairman of the 34th annual Southern African Transport Conference (SATC), Professor Wynand Steyn, said the system in the country is sustainable. He said various cities have different volumes of passengers on the buses. He explained that before a BRT system could be implemented, a city should firstly check the size of the buses, the length of the routes and the city’s peak hour.
"If you have the correct town planners and engineers who understand the bigger picture and who can actually incorporate local conditions in the city’s planning, they can ensure that the BRT system is sustainable. But if you have somebody who doesn’t understand the background and just wants to replicate other places, you are not going to have a sustainable system," he added.
Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality didn’t respond to Bloemfontein Courant after having been supplied with questions over a week ago. – Refilwe Gaeswe