Grandiose scheme ignores reality

Vaughan Mostert of the transport department at Johannesburg University has for years been a lone voice calling for the improvement of the city's bus service. But as with many prophets in their own land, his message has often been ignored.

Vaughan Mostert of the transport department at Johannesburg University has for years been a lone voice calling for the improvement of the city's bus service. But as with many prophets in their own land, his message has often been ignored.

Mostert is also sceptical of the Rea Vaya programme, which he describes as an impractical grandiose plan that ignores realities in the city.

"Their scheme is as bogus as Gautrain," he says.

He says that for the past 10 years the city has effectively imposed a moratorium on expanding bus services and has allowed the once-efficient bus system to run down.

"We have 78 bus routes in the city, of which 60 are glorified lift clubs because there are no off-peak services.

"Why aren't we improving the existing routes?" he asks.

"This must happen within the next 12 months. The longer it takes to fix, the more difficult it will be to recover.

"We must start now to create a culture of public transport. We must have 90 routes in operation across the city by no later than 2008 operating at a frequency of at least one bus every 15 minutes."

Without a safe, efficient and comprehensive service it will be next to impossible to persuade car owners to trust public transport, he says.

"Transport planners seem to think a shift will take place overnight, but resistance will be much higher than they expect unless the petrol price doubles. Even then people would be more likely to resort to lift clubs than public transport."

Mostert believes no more than 5 to 10 percent of drivers are likely to switch to public transport.

"This crowd is not serious about fixing public transport. There has been no improvement in existing services for years."

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