New bus wheels start rolling

IT WAS not a red curtain but a red steel gate that opened on Sunday to allow the first passengers into Johannesburg's Rea Vaya Westgate station to board the red and blue buses taking their maiden journey.

IT WAS not a red curtain but a red steel gate that opened on Sunday to allow the first passengers into Johannesburg's Rea Vaya Westgate station to board the red and blue buses taking their maiden journey.

Journalists and commuters clamoured to be among the first to experience what Johannesburg mayor Amos Masondo described as a "historic day" for the city and country.

In a speech earlier Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele said the taxi industry would have a "significant stake" in the Bus Rapid Transit system.

"They are going to get a significant stake. Whether it is going to be 51percent or 60percent, this BRT is not about profit," he said.

"It is not about the taxi industry. It is about the person who has the right to vote and now has the right to movement."

He thanked the industry for its "maturity" in not going on strike in protest against the system.

Taxi operators have previously expressed fears the system will threaten their livelihoods.

Ndebele said the minibus taxi industry could trust the government ensuring that everybody benefited from the system.

"What interest do we have in running the taxi industry down?" he asked. - Sapa

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