Meeting SummaryThe Department of Transport briefed the Committee on its Integrated Public Transport Plan (IPTN) to address the findings of the 2003 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS). South Africa was required to develop integrated public transport networks (IPTNs) as outlined in the Public Transport Strategy of 2007. Local rail, bus, minibus taxi and on demand services had to be integrated and had to link with long term services like air, train, coach and midi-bus taxis. The Department had prioritised Bus Rapid Transport (BRT), High Quality Bus Service and Rapid Rail as critical elements of the IPTN where the municipal situation warrants such an intervention. Some of the challenges identified by the 2003 NHTS were that SA had a poor public transport system and yet only 31% of SA households had access to a car. The modal split for travel to work was 32%-car, 23%-walk, 25%-taxi, 9%-bus, 6%-train and 5% used other means.
Apartheid spatial planning and forced removals and the inappropriate location of 3.1m RDP houses were some of the historic reasons and key factors causing the urban sprawl dilemma in SA. Operational subsidies allocated to PRASA and buses were R3.5bn and R4.3bn respectively for 2012/13. Persons earning less that R500 a month spent 35% of their income on transport, between R501-R1000 spent 23% and between R1001-R2000 spent 14% of their income on transport. The main idea was to have an integrated networks approach. The long term strategy was to have 85% of all residents within 500m-1km of an Integrated Network by 2020. Fleets, facilities, stops and stations would be upgraded. There would be extended hours of operation with safe and secure operations. Fares would also be collected electronically. From a funding point of view, the Department reported that R18bn was needed but the allocated amount was only R5bn, hence implementation would take much longer.
The Committee appreciated the comprehensive briefing but was more interested in the progress being made at grassroots level. An issue which elicited much discussion was the ongoing subsidisation of buses. It was a practise that was spanning over decades and it was felt that it should come to an end. It was suggested that the commuter should be subsidised rather than a bus company or operator. The feeling was that a few bus companies were monopolising the market and government was subsidising them. How could one mode of transport be subsidised at the expense of another. It was felt that there was blatant discrimination. The subsidies favoured certain role-players. A further suggestion made was the use of a single ticketing system. The problem with implementing a single ticketing system was that in SA the various modes of public transport were not integrated. A single ticketing system was not impossible but it would be difficult to implement.
The reasons behind the closing down of smaller airlines was an issue which was felt needed to be looked at as air travel should be affordable and accessible to the masses. The continued subsidisation of South African Airways was another debatable issue.
National Department of Transport (NDoT)
The National Department of Transport briefed the Committee on its Integrated Public Transport Plan to address the findings of the 2003 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS). The briefing was undertaken by Mr Mathabatha Mokonyama, Deputy Director General: Public Transport.
South Africa was required to develop integrated public transport networks (IPTNs) as outlined in the Public Transport Strategy of 2007. Local rail, bus, minibus taxi and on demand services had to be integrated and had to link with long term services like air, train, coach and midi-bus taxis. The NDoT had prioritised Bus Rapid Transport (BRT), High Quality Bus Services and Rapid Rail as critical elements of the IPTN where the municipal situation warranted such an intervention. Public transport had been neglected for 25 years and it was likely that it would take up until 2025 for integrated, sustainable and universally accessible networks to be completed. Some of the challenges identified by the 2003 NHTS were that:
●South Africa had an extremely poor Public Transport (unreliable, unsafe, often too expensive)…but only 31% of South African households have access to a car.
●30% households spend 11% plus of income on PT, 18% spend 20% plus
●In KZN – 15% of learners walk over 1h30 mins to and from school
●SA had one of highest per capita road fatality stats in world:
14,000 road fatalities p.a.
It was the leading unnatural cause of death among 4-7 year olds
It was the main cause of injury-related death among women
SA had a poor public transport system and yet only 31% of SA households had access to a car. The modal split for travel to work was 32%-car, 23%-walk, 25%-taxi, 9%-bus, 6%-train and 5% used other means.
He elaborated on SA’s rail rolling stock status. The Passenger Rail Agency of SA (PRASA) had 4 638 coaches for Metrorail operations in Gauteng, Durban, Western Cape and Eastern Cape. About 97.5% of the rolling stock in operation dated back to the late 1950s. The last new trains were purchased in the mid 1980s. While the rolling stock was on the decline passenger trips had grown from 465 million in 2001/02 to 590 million in 2007/08 at a compounded growth rate of 4%. Apartheid spatial planning and forced removals and the inappropriate location of 3.1 million Reconstruction and Development Plan (RDP) houses were some of the historic reasons and key factors causing the urban sprawl dilemma in SA. Operational subsidies allocated to PRASA and buses were R3.5bn and R4.3bn respectively for 2012/13. Persons earning less that R500 a month spent 35% of their income on transport, those earning between R501-R1000 spent 23% and those between R1001-R2000 spent 14% of their income on transport.
The main idea was to have an integrated networks approach. The long term strategy was to have 85% of all residents within 500m-1km of an Integrated Network by 2020. Fleets, facilities, stops and stations would be upgraded. There would be extended hours of operation with safe and secure operations. Fares would also be collected electronically.
From a funding point of view, R18bn was needed but the allocated amount was only R5bn. Hence implementation would take much longer. Members were provided with a breakdown of figures on allocations.
The way forward with regards to the Integrated Public Transport Plan was elaborated upon. He noted that if nothing was done the gap would widen and the situation would worsen. However a major financial injection was needed. The problem was that the costs far outweighed the revenue generated. Public transport should be made attractive so that more people would use it. The more users meant increases in revenue. The Committee was given a progress update per city with regards to planning and implementation. This included updates on Cape Town’s My CiTi Phase 1a, Johannesburg’s Rea Vaya Phase 1a, b & c, NMBM’s Integrated Public Transport System, Rustenburg Rapid Transport, Tshwane BRT Line 1&2, Ethekwini IRPTN Phase 1, Buffalo City Phase 1a, 1b, Polokwane IPTN Phase 1, Mbombela’s IPTN, Ekurhuleni IRPTN Phase 1a, Msunduzi IPTN Phase 1 and Mangaung IRPTN (Phase 1).
It was reported that Cape Town’s My CiTi Phase 1a bus service had- as at 30 June 2012- spent R2.6bn of its allocated R4.59bn. The project scope was to create 27km of dedicated bus lanes, 37 trunk and feeder stations, 621 open feeder stops and 3 depots. It would carry 120 000 passenger trips a day in 2014 on 250 vehicles. By October 2011 it was carrying up to 12 000 passengers per weekday on 42 buses and 14 stations. Over 50% of current passengers were former motor-vehicle users.
He concluded by touching on PRASA’s rolling stock acquisition programme and the upgrade of its signalling system.
Mr L Suka (ANC) referred to page 41 of the briefing document and asked for clarity on the Nelson Mandela Bay area Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system. He felt that there was no progress on the BRT in the area.
Mr Mokonyama responded that the biggest challenge in the area was not of a technical nature but was governance, more specifically, in fighting between equity partners. Operators needed to come on board with regards to the BRT system. However existing operators on the routes also needed to be considered. There were the Algoa Bus Services and taxi operators to consider in the area. Taxi owners formed taxi co-operations which would engage with municipalities. Taxi co-operations fought amongst themselves and this dragged on for over two years. This stalled the progress made. The in-fighting even led to the matter going to court. The municipality in the area decided to place the matter in the hands of a higher authority- the deputy mayor of the area. National Treasury had not too long ago approved the rolling over of last year’s funds to the current financial year.
On the technical side, buses had been purchased in 2010 but had since been standing. Another challenge was fitting the new buses into the existing infrastructure. If the funds were not utilised in the current financial year it could not be rolled over another year.
Mr Suka suggested that government subsidise the commuter rather than bus companies. Was it too excessive? Why could passengers not be subsidised? There should be an increase in the devolution of powers to appropriate levels within the NDOT. He had serious concerns about the progress on the BRT in Nelson Mandela Bay. As at 30 June 2012, only R1bn had been spent. 10km of lanes had been constructed by 2010. The Deputy Mayor was championing the project on launching a 25 bus pilot service by November 2012. The roads that had been built in 2010 were now being demolished. What impact was the rebuilding of roads having on the R1bn? There was also no information or figures given on job creation in the area. How many jobs would be created?
Mr Mokonyama replied that as the public transport system was being transformed there was no talk of bus or taxi subsidies but rather about public transport subsidies. There was a single source for subsidies. From a management perspective it was better to make collections from one operator. It had to be remembered that the target of the subsidy was always the commuter. Monitoring could be done and inspectors could be used. If one subsidised the public directly, it would exclude first time users and one time users. The Suid Afrikaanse Steenkool en Olie (SASOL) had paid an operator directly to transport its workers. Trade unions representing workers asked that the workers themselves be allowed to pay the operator. The consequence was that workers did not use the funds allocated for transport to pay the operator and used the funds elsewhere. It would seem that paying the operator directly was more effective but the matter was debatable.
He noted that figures on jobs created were not available as yet; the majority of plans were conceptual. In the end the NDoT would know how many jobs would be created and the figures would be forwarded to the Committee.
Mr Suka agreed that the subsidy issue needed further debate. There were countries which subsidised commuters rather than operators. The issue needed to be discussed. He felt the best option to be to subsidise commuters. If the operator was subsidised then a company benefited, if a commuter was subsidised then the SA public benefited.
Ms N Ngele (ANC) noted that most of the briefing covered urban areas. Not much was said about rural areas. Reference was made to Tshwane itself but not to the rural areas within Tshwane. Was the BRT system also going to be implemented in Soshanguve?
Mr Mokonyama noted that most of the work was done in cities because the work itself was done by the cities. All that the NDoT did was to check on whether norms and standards were abided to. The Department’s influence was limited. The Integrated Public Transport Plan covered rural areas as well.
Mr I Ollis (ANC) referred to page 11 of the briefing document which spoke about the “inappropriate location of RDP houses”, and said that the issue involved the different spheres of government. The NDoT had to facilitate integration between different spheres of government ie national, provincial and local. The NDoT had to lobby provinces and cities as to where RDP houses should be built. He asked when last had the NDoT approached cities like Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town with regards to building RDP houses close to railway lines. Cities tended to build houses where it suited them for the provision of services like water and electricity. Perhaps the NDoT could convince cities that it was cheaper to build bulk infrastructure than it was to lay railway lines.
He addressed the Chairperson and said that the 2003 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) figures were outdated. The latest census figures were available. Perhaps the latest census figures could impact upon the NHTS.
Mr Ollis further asked if work was still being done on the Moloto Corridor Project. It had been approved years before. He felt the use of rail on the Moloto Project to be better than buses.
He pointed out that the figures which the NDoT provided on rolling stock seemed different. If the budget was R5bn why was Mr Mokonyama saying that he needed R18bn. How was the figure of R18bn attained? He felt that a great deal of funds had been wasted in Nelson Mandela Bay.
He added that as a yougster he once had a map of the Eastern Cape which showed that an expressway was to be built. Was it still in the pipeline?
Mr Mokonyama replied that the NDoT was interacting with cities. Teams were in place to monitor progress. He explained that the Public Transport Infrastructure and Systems (PTIS) grant amounted to R5bn. Bids alone amounted to R18bn, hence the shortfall. Rural Roads grant amounted to R12m.
The Moloto Corridor was part of the NDoT’s plans. It was approved in 2007/2008 and thereafter the NDoT requested funding from National Treasury. National Treasury responded that the NDoT had not done an option analysis. The NDoT was therefore at present doing an option analysis. A comparison was being made between busses and rail. Rail was safer and faster than busses.
The Chairperson emphasised that development was a process and that it involved planning, action, reflection and then planning again. It was a continuous process. There was an Intergovernmental Relations Framework to ensure that there was interaction amongst government departments both vertically and horizontally. It was not the work of Mr Mokonyama to facilitate such interaction. It was also not the responsibility of the NDoT but was up to local government.
Ms R Motsepe (ANC) asked whether the train station at Hammanskraal was operating. In addition, she was glad that there were many projects in Pretoria and Gauteng as people flocked to those areas.
Mr Mokonyama said that the Hammanskraal to Pretoria was a main line. More information on it would be forwarded to the Committee.
Mr Suka referred to page 19 which spoke to the plans of the NDoT. He asked Mr Mokonyama to elaborate. Furthermore, what budget had been set aside for work in rural areas?
Mr Mokonyama said that the intention was to transform existing bus services. Unscheduled minibus taxis and smaller buses were brought in. There had to be communication and negotiation.
He noted that as BRTs were done feeder services went into villages. Rural areas were being included. R12.9m had been allocated to extend services to people who had not been serviced before. There was an integrated approach which covered urban and rural.
The main challenge facing the NDoT was a lack of capacity and funding. Capacity and funding were critical success factors.
The Chairperson referred to slides 5, 6 and 14 of the briefing document and addressed her comments to these. The main mode of transport for the working classes was minibus taxis to get to work. According to slide 6 the modal split between trains, buses and taxis was 6%, 9% and 25% respectively. The total when adding them up was 40%. According to the 2003 NTHS persons earning R500 per month spent 35% of their earnings on transport. The poor mainly used minibus taxis but they were not subsidised. The benefit of subsidies was not felt by the commuter. Against which country was SA modelling its transport systems on?
The Chairperson stated that she had previously lived in Canada and as a scholar was entitled to a discounted ticket for public transport. The ticket could be used in a bus, train or taxi. Even living in a township for a while in SA she said that she had bought discounted bus tickets either weekly or monthly. How could it all of a sudden become impossible to subsidise a passenger rather than a mode of transport. Government had a responsibility to its people not operators. The cheaper the cost of travel the more people would use it. Why could a commuter not be subsidised? One could not subsidise one mode of transport over another. It was discriminatory.
Mr Mokonyama responded that it was not impossible to subsidise a commuter. He simply meant that there were pros and cons to it.
The Chairperson reacted that interaction with the Director General of the NDoT had taken place over the issue of contracts of bus operators. It seemed that there was a monopoly taking place. Some of the contracts had been in place since 2003 even though contracts were from month to month. The situation was not fair to other role players who wished to enter the market. Buses were privately owned by a few companies who benefited from the subsidies over many years. The bus subsidy discriminated against other modes of transport. Another issue was also why only certain bus companies were subsidised. The government had a responsibility to provide cost effective transport to its people. Subsidies were structured to favour certain players. The government had inherited the bus subsidy system; it did not mean that it was a good system.
Mr Mokonyama reiterated that the subsidy was aimed at the commuter. The manner on how the subsidy should be done was the issue. The single ticket system mentioned by the Chairperson was good; the only problem was that SA’s public transport system was not integrated. The different mode of transports needed to be integrated. The Gautrain used a single ticket system. The system was inter-operable.
The Chairperson said that if there was a lack of funding for transport infrastructure development in SA two things were needed. The first was a bank which SA had in the form of the SA Post Bank. The second was communication infrastructure which could be provided by Telkom. A single card for public transport was an income generator on its own.
Mr Mokonyama once again stated that the problem that SA had was that its modes of transport was not integrated. A single ticketing system was not impossible. He noted that the bus subsidies had started in 1945 after there had been the Alexander Bus Boycott when bus fairs were increased. Government stepped in and appointed the Welgemoed Commission to look into the matter. It was found that commuters could not afford the increase. Hence the government introduced the bus subsidy. Before the advent of minibus taxis, bus companies had lifelong contracts and permits. At present there were monopolies by bus companies in various provinces. For example in the Gauteng there was PATCO, in Cape Town there was Golden Arrow. Why the perpetuation of bus monopolies? In 1996 a White Paper called for competitive tendering. The net contract system had been modelled on countries like New Zealand, Australia and the Scandinavian countries.
The Chairperson interjected and said that Kenya had a good model on co-peratives and transport.
Mr Mokonyama responded that Kenya did have a good co-operatives model but its transport subsidisation was not perfect. If the option of competitive tendering was to be explored, he noted that it would be difficult for smaller bus companies to tender against the established bigger companies. The bigger companies had too far an advantage over smaller companies.
The Chairperson stated that the current contract system with big bus companies had to be done away with.
Mr Suka noted that policies needed to be renewed from time to time. The bus contract system had been in place for over ten years. He suggested that the NDoT draft a document speaking to the issue of subsidisation which the Committee could peruse. Examples from other countries also needed to be considered. Thereafter the Committee could make recommendations to the NDoT on the issue of subsidies.
The Committee should be guided by the Constitution and the Millennium Development Goals on Transport. There should be non discrimination. The closing down of low cost airlines also needed to be looked into. Clearly something was wrong. Air travel should also be available to the masses at affordable prices. The issue of government subsidising South African Airways was another debatable issue. The responsibility of the SA government was to provide a safe, scheduled and cost effective transport system.
Mr Mokonyama stated that the comments of members were noted. The NDoT had developed a concept document on subsidisation and it would be forwarded to the Committee in due course.
The meeting was adjourned.
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