the bus stops here

IT was a gruelling crush at taxi ranks and train stations as thousands of commuters made an early start to secure a ride to their workplaces.

IT was a gruelling crush at taxi ranks and train stations as thousands of commuters made an early start to secure a ride to their workplaces.

This after Durban's bus transport company, Remant Alton, ceased to operate. The bus service that catered for more than 45000 commuters a day ended on Monday.

While the city has indicated that a new bus operator will be introduced on July 10, details of the process or the preferred operator have not been disclosed.

The KwaZulu-Natal Transport Alliance yesterday said the taxi industry servicing major townships around Durban bore the brunt of the absent buses.

"It has placed a huge strain on our operators. Many had to increase the workload. While this appears to be good for business, it is not good for the industry. Taxi operators have their own commuters," said spokesperson Willie Mbense.

He said the difference between the bus and taxi service was that buses run until 11pm, while taxis end the service a lot earlier.

"It is difficult for commuters, in some instances people staying at garages and other outlets because they have no transport late at night. The taxi industry has tried to extend the service but can only do so much."

Yesterday business said a speedy resolution would help both business and commuters.

"We know that workers are finding alternative transport. But productivity is affected because workers' schedules are affected," said Durban Chamber of Business CEO Gugu Mazibuko.

Workers arriving late

"They are arriving late at work and leaving early. This is having a negative impact on business and affecting productivity."

Commuters had to also dig deeper into their pockets, especially those who took taxis to work.

"I paid double my usual fare and arrived late at work. I am lucky I have an employer who understands," said Moses Dlamini, 60, of Umlazi.

Thandi Dhlomo, 45, of KwaMashu, said she had to get to the train station an hour earlier.

"I got there so I could be first in the queue and get to work on time. Thank goodness the schools are closed, otherwise we would have battled.

"Still there were some people who had to wait for hours before they got to work."

Remant Alton, a BEE company, was awarded the contract to operate the city's buses in 2003 at R70million. Soon after the takeover complaints from commuters about poor service started. This was followed by a number of strikes by the drivers.

In March, the bus service was suspended by the city after Remant Alton said it could not continue operating with only 150 buses out of the initial fleet of 500 in operation.

The Durban transport consultative committee, which represents commuters in and around the city, has threatened to take to the streets and bring the city to a standstill if it did not bring back the bus service.