Bus Rapid Transport (BRT): progress, challenges and risks faced by cities Day 1

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12 September 2017
Chairperson: Ms D Magadzi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee was briefed by Cape Town, Johannesburg, Tshwane, Mangaung, George, Rustenburg and Polekwane on the implementation of the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT), progress to date, and challenges and risks faced by municipalities in implementing the BRT systems.

The City of Cape Town focussed on the existing MyCiTi services, its operational performance, improved efficiencies and project successes. A review of the project concentrated on a review of the original BRT model, the Integrated Public Transport System (IPTN), the Business Plan and the Multi-Year Financial Operational Plan (MYFIN). Challenges and risks related to grant funding stability, the alignment of national specifications to the adjusted approach and the declining passenger rail service. Members asked whether there had been value for the money allocated to the system, how the business model would manage costs and recovery and how small taxis could be incorporated in the BRT as a feeding mechanism for the main routes. Members were keen to know what the City was doing in making sure that it contributed to the alleviation of poverty or to ensure that black empowerment was promoted.

The City of Johannesburg focussed on successes in improvement of mobility, locality and affordability of public transport for all and how the city had contributed to economic growth. The city was moving towards an integrated system, balancing infrastructure provision, and operating and regulating public transport. Given that Johannesburg was the first to roll out the BRT system, it would be sharing its experiences and challenges. The established BRT policy spoke to the city’s pro-poor policy.  Members expressed their concerns over the conflict with taxis and whether they were included in the BRT system as a way of transforming the taxi industry. Members were also concerned about issues related to consultancy, compensation and buy-out plans. The Committee asked whether the City was generating its own resources and whether the system could work despite the challenges of cable thefts. They also showed interest in matters relating to consultancy services.

The City of Tshwane advised that the Integrated Public Transport System (IPTN) had been developed with the aim of meeting the needs of the people of Tshwane in a sustainable and affordable manner. The Areyeng network represented the rapid component of the IPTN and was being developed in a number of phases over a period up to 25 years. The network had been planned for extension in phases covering key townships like Mamelodi, Mahube Valley Soshanguve, Atteridgeville, and Olievenhoutbosch. Members expressed their concerns over compensation and subsidy models. The BRT System had messed up the traffic flow to the CBD and businesses along certain streets had consequently been destroyed. Members noted that system could not be allowed to go on unless there was agreement between the city and taxi operators.

The City of Mangaung was experiencing challenges and mentioned that Mangaung had only been declared a metro in 2011. There were a lot of issues for the City to address as a metro. The City had a plan which had been approved by the City Council but the human resource capacity was insufficient and the city was understaffed so it had to rely on consultancy services. Members were of the view that the presentation had alluded to challenges facing the city but had failed to indicate remedial measures to address them. They asked how the SMMEs and cooperatives were benefiting from the project. Members were concerned about how money allocated for the City was being utilised to procure management capacity instead of rolling out the BRT project.

The George Municipality indicated that it had a limited budget and was not yet fully capacitated, but had safe and reliable transport. The Vehicle Operating Company (VOC) had been established and was fully operational. The system transported a maximum of 13 700 passengers per day and reached 380 000 trips per month. The system covered 109 km of roadway in Phases 1 to 3.  All vehicles were ultramodern, with the minibuses having been specially developed to provide Universal Access.  All vehicles were of Euro V emission standard and used 50PPM sulphur content diesel. Members wanted to know if there were plans in place to ensure the system was sustainable and did not rely on grants. The issue of disgruntled transport operators in the George area was discussed.The Rustenburg Municipality transport system, Yarona, was expected to start in 2018. 80% of the residents relied on public transport. The idea was to transport 200 000 commuters daily. The municipality had engaged with 22 taxi associations, nine of which were affected by the BRT operations and MOUs had been signed. The BRT was seen as the start of a new era for development, mobility, and transformation in Rustenburg. Committee Members remarked that the presentation used a language similar to that of PRASA of legal battles, consultations, unforeseen circumstances, etc. The Committee wanted to know the reason for the request of R2.5 billion on top of the already allocated, but not yet exhausted, R2 billion. The Committee considered an oversight visit to see the projects and to ensure that public funds were being used correctly. The Hawks would have to deal with any incomplete funded projects and responsible individuals and companies.The Polokwane Municipality reported that it was involving the private sector in the funding of the infrastructure, and was having discussions with the Department and National Treasury on reviewing the grant formula because it did not favour small cities. The municipality was considering appointing consultants for five years. A Transportation Directorate was already 75% capacitated and had an internship programme for young professionals to help in skills retention, continuity of service providers, and departmental integration. Significant road infrastructure upgrades had been completed.  Council land had been used instead of acquiring private land.  Questions were asked about delayed construction in one area of Polokwane that was disrupting traffic.  The Committee proposed an oversight visit to see the good story that was being told. 

Meeting report

Opening remarks

The Chairperson opened the meeting by introducing Members of the Committee. She called on the City of the Cape Town to the take Committee through the presentation.

Briefing by the City of Cape Town

Mr Joshua Fortune, Manager at the City of Cape Town, took the Committee through the presentation which focused on three major aspects: project progress; and challenges and risks. The project progress highlighted the existing MyCiTi services; operational performance; improved efficiencies and project successes. Key lessons learnt concentrated on a review of the original Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) model, the Integrated Public Transport Network (IPTN) Business Plan, and the Multi-Year Financial Operational Plan (MYFIN). Challenges and risks included: grant funding stability and certainty; alignment of national specifications to the adjusted approach; fragmentation of institutional responsibilities; failure to assign the S46 contracting function.  The continued decline of passenger rail and the failure to assign rail in terms of the Rail Draft White Paper was hugely problematic.

Some of the key lessons learnt include the following:

City must play central coordination and integration role between modes

Focus on trunk services, supported by:

  • Core and high demand scheduled feeder services with priority lane measures;
  • Rationalized Quality Bus services; and

On-demand Minibus-taxis to play a feeder and/ or distribution service

(See attached presentation)


The Chairperson said that where an issue needed elaboration, that should be done in writing. She said that members should ask questions to ascertain whether the work done by the City Cape Town offered value for the money allocated to it. The Committee would be informing the Minister what it had learnt from those presentations. 

Mr C Hunsinger (DA) welcomed the presentation and asked a question on the maturity of Phase one. He would like to see the influence of the projected remedies, how proposals could be maintained and, how the business model would do in terms of costs and recovery because the existing economic atmosphere did not suggest that there would be increase in the conditional grants. The positive work done in Cape Town should be copied in other places. The presentation made a good distinction between trunk and feeder routes. He was of the view that taxi services could incorporated into the feeder routes where the big buses were not effective. Another idea was that the small buses could be hired to increase cooperation with taxis. What was the view of the City of Cape Town on that suggestion? Could the City be specific and provide direction? Where was the City getting the electric buses? How could that change the cost recovery model? Two aspects or more played a part in the calculation around efficiency in the trunk as compared to the feeder routes. Would it be sensible to use electric buses in the feeder system and how this would change the cost recovery model? It had been stated that the City would increase its oversight over the modes and there had been reference to the regulatory framework and contracting authority. Would the City explain its vision and what it wanted to achieve? There had been a couple of accidents with MyCiti buses and could the City elaborate on these accidents? He knew of the issue of not utilising the right material at stations. He sought clarity on core feeders and direct services and why the City required the assignment of contracting functions. He said asked the City to elaborate.

Mr M de Freitas (DA) welcomed the presentation and remarked that he was aware of what the City was doing and that he had been doing research on the BRT systems. He had an impression that the City’s model was cut and paste from a Latin American model. The City appeared to be the most advanced in the implementation of the BRT systems. Was there a local forum or network in which local cities discussed the BRT? Was there a kind of network in which experiences were shared? He suspected that most local cities were behind of the model of the BRT. If there was no such forum, he suggested that such a forum should be established to save money and time. In Cape Town, he could see that they had tried to integrate other local authorities. The main problem that he had was that all roads seemed to lead into Cape Town. Could the City elaborate on how the destination could be changed to avoid everyone going into the city? There was no need for all people to go into the city.

Mr T Mbanza (ANC) welcomed the presentation. He said that the first issue was about cutting down on operations and the second was an issue of consultancy. What had been discovered in most projects and most of the work of departments, was a reliance on consultancy services. Did the City utilise consultancy services? Did the City take into consideration the question of empowerment, particularly of black and women?  What was the City doing in making sure that it contributed to alleviation of poverty or to ensure that empowerment was promoted? He asked which international practice or model the City was benchmarking in terms of the implementation of the BRT project. He remarked that presentation was quite long and impressive but with only one recommendation, an economic recommendation.

Ms S Xego (ANC) appreciated the presentation and asked where the City saw its model of best practice. She remarked that the BRT was running a pre-payment system and thus asked how the City satisfied customers during the strikes and protests. What was the City’s measurement tool to determine customer satisfaction? How did the City see the project impacting on people? Were people leaving their cars to use the BRT transport?

Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) welcomed the presentation and remarked that the presentation could have dealt with noticeable challenges. Referring to the feeder system, he noted that the City did not have a feeder system but a replacement strategy. The City was hounding out taxis and replacing them with MyCiti. The taxi industry had been struggling over many years and it had not been receiving support. Why were the taxis taken away when it was known as a black industry? The strategy in place did not speak to the risks of taking away taxis. There was a conflict between those who sold out their taxis and those who wanted to remain on the route. Did the City think about building medium taxi business operators? Was the system supporting government airports? He was of the view that the taxis could have been incorporated in the BRT system. The planning question should consider all those in apartheid cities. On the question of expenditure, he said that R6 billion had been allocated to the city since 2010 and a lot of money had been spent on consultancy. He sought clarity on in-house capacity to implement the BRT system. Where did the money come from for the MyCiti rollout? Was it the conditional grant?

Mr T Mulaudzi (EFF) welcomed the presentation. He said that he was concerned about the disadvantaged areas which were not catered for under the BRT systems. According to the presentation, 15% of all passengers were dependent on MyCiti. However, there was no figure in the presentation illustrating figures for normal taxis that fed the MyCiti system. How did passengers from informal settlements fit in the MyCiti system? Were taxis subsidised? What was the relationship between MyCiti and Taxi Associations? How were the small businesses, i.e. small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) and cooperatives benefitting from the MyCiti system?

Mr M Sibande (ANC) welcomed the presentation. He said that he would touch on what others had raised earlier on. He noted that, previously, there had been a problem with the structure and now it looked good as it included women. The structure should be inclusive at all levels, be it at the senior or junior level. Issues raised by many members were the consultancy services and he asked how often the City used consultation and why the City should use consultation when it could employ its own people. When the City was replacing minibuses with MyCiti, did it have a programme for integrating the communities? What was the relationship between the City and Uber? He remarked that Uber was selling via a network and was not a structure. He stressed that Uber operations were illegal. He further noted that what worried him was the issue of future loss of income if taxis were scrapped and the new system of transportation was not taking into consideration the needs of disadvantaged communities such as Mitchell’s Plain, Khayelitsha, Hanover Park, etc. Disadvantaged communities that were in the greatest need of public transportation were not prioritised. He asked whether the City had engaged with communities prior to and after rolling out MyCiti. How would the City serve communities if it was not consulting or engaging with them? Could the City advise the Committee whether communities such as Kraaifontein and Stellenbosch were using MyCiti? If not, why not?

The Chairperson noted that MyCiti was reliant on a pre-pay system and thus asked how much a passenger was being charged. What did the payment policy look like? Was the MyCiti system safe and secure? Was it failing women and children in terms of safety and security when they travelled at night? Was the system socially and economically inclusive? Were disadvantaged communities catered for? How was the City contributing to the Greenhouse issues or the reduction of pollution? How could the Committee assist the City?

Mr Fortune noted that he would respond to critical questions in writing. He stated that whenever a programme was at the first phase or when a service was introduced, it started at a low pace. This was critical when one got to the second phase. The modernisation process should also be taken account. There would be a separate presentation on modernisation and optimisation. On the question of trunk and feeder, it was not about employing small buses for the feeder routes. The City needed to move away from that and to incorporate the minibus taxis on the basis of demand set-up in the current network. The key aspect of making the system work was that the taxis in the current form should form part of the network or system. On the electric vehicles, he responded that it was important for cost recovery and more information on that aspect would be provided. On the question of accidents, he noted that there was a need to focus on the signals and to develop regulations. The manual signs ought to be reviewed to improve services. On the question of the BRT cut and paste argument, he agreed that that was where the City had started, but both the City of Cape Town and Johannesburg, came to learn that it was not advisable to imitate another city. There was no example that could be taken from somewhere else and applied in South Africa. On the Committee’s oversight, he noted that all cities should be visited so that the cities could share with members the lessons learnt and how best they could be assisted. Other cities from Africa were visiting Cape Town and Johannesburg so that they could learn from its experiences. This, however, did not imply that there were no common aspects that the two cities could learn from each other. Regarding concerns that all roads lead to Cape Town, he noted that was indeed a problem. That required all people to be in a specific place and at specific time and that created congestion in the city. There was a need to focus on other locations. On the question of compensation and the use of consultancy, he responded that the Committee would be provided with the break-down of services. The City of Cape Town had in-house staff who were providing services. 

Johannesburg Presentation

Ms Lisa Seftel, Executive Director, City of Johannesburg, took the Committee through the presentation which focussed on successes that had improved mobility, locality and affordability of public transport for all and how the city contributed to economic growth. It was noted that the city was the first to introduce the BRT system and it was moving towards integrated system, balancing infrastructure provision, operating and regulating public transport. It had not been easy but the city had managed to move forward. The City of Johannesburg hoped that the Committee would continue to support the City as it provided affordable, fast and reliable transport to the public. Given that the city was the first to roll out the BRT system, it would be sharing its experiences and challenges. Those who were introducing BRT after the city would be able to learn from the City’s Rea Vaya system. Everything was done under an established BRT policy which spoke about the city’s priorities. It was a pro-poor policy.

There was progressive implementation of universal accessibility –for people with disability, elderly, those with luggage and prams etc. Improvements have included shifts from:

  • High floor to low floor stations (with significant cost and transit implication)
  • Wheel chairs lifts to low entry buses with cassette
  • Significant tact tile way finding paving in and around the stations and alongside shelters and stops
  • Greater attention to fonts and colours on signage, website and Vaya Moja app

What else has the BRT achieved?

  • Reduction of congestion
  • important for economic growth
  • Job creation and the provision of economic opportunities
  • Poverty reduction through providing affordable transport especially to low income users
  • Road safety and less accidents
  • Improved health due to reduction of air pollution
  • The development of social cohesion through encouraging more collective means of travelling

Lessons for future phases include:

  • Planning: Need to be guided by a long term plan which incorporates other modes, alignment with land use planning and recognise lead times and network effect
  • Financial sustainability: Need to develop a 12 year financial plan with due regards to increase in operational subsidy, maintenance, operational costs in future years. Difficult to implement flagship projects in a recessionary environment
  • Funding sources: New funding sources unlikely, need to optimise operations, improve efficiency and plan sustainably
  • Technology: Robust vs smart and local vs foreign choices are more sustainable and feasible
  • Integration: Must be customer centric and not come at a cost premium e.g.. accessible transfers, common passenger information
  • Change management: Critical for public transport operators, stakeholders and staff


Mr Sibande asked what the presenter meant by negotiating 12-year contracts with operators. He remarked that two days previously there had been conflict with taxis in relation to how they operated. Was there a programme of consulting and engaging with communities? All noticeable problems arose from poor consultations. He was concerned about the consultancy services and overall expenditure. He wanted to know whether there was other revenue apart from conditional grants. Nothing was indicated in the presentation. Where did money raised from pre-paid taxi fares go? What was the City’s experience in terms of cable theft? Was the electric bus system going to be fruitful or was it going to be challenged by cable theft?

Mr Mulaudzi remarked that the city had embarked on the BRT system to address the city’s congestion. Could the City elaborate on this because the BRT roads were built on the roads that were already available? How could traffic congestion be decreased if the BRT infrastructure was built on the existing one? He asked for an elaboration on the 30% allocated to SMMEs and cooperatives and asked for figures of those SMMEs and cooperatives benefitting from the Rea Vaya system. People were complaining that most of the time that the Rea Vaya buses were overloaded. What was the City’s the view about that complaint? What was the relationship between the Rea Vaya system and Gautrain system?

Mr Ramatlakane noted that the presentation was interesting but he had not heard anything about the buy-out strategy in terms of Gauteng. Much had been said about the shareholder structure and incorporating aspects. If there had been a buy-out strategy, what was the response to it? What was the in-house capacity with a view to managing the BRT system? Was the city depending on consultancy? Was consultancy taking place in the 13 cities? What criteria were they relying on to out-source and how many consultancy services were being hired? On the accrual of finances in terms of the conditional grant, the city was under-spending.  How much had been saved in terms of accrual of finance?

Ms Xego said that there was a need for cities to meet and discuss certain issues. She suggested that the Committee should conduct an oversight visit and ride on the buses, and meet with shareholders and stakeholders so that the Committee could get full insight. She appreciated the fact that the City mentioned that one of the challenges was a lack of law enforcement in respect of road rules infringements. Was there a strategy to deal with the challenges?

Mr Mbaza asked what kind of intervention the City needed from the Committee to enable it to implement the BRT system.  Was it only the issue of funding?

Mr de Freitas asked what the main delays were in the implementation of the BRT system. Had these issues been resolved? Was there any strategy to integrate the three cities, namely Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane, which were closely situated in a geographical context? Was there any interaction between the cities?

Mr Hunsinger welcomed the presentation and asked what the phrase “main remote to work” meant. In slide four, was the comparison in terms of vehicles or people? There was the challenge of catching buses during peak hours and asked what the City was doing to address that problem. He also said that buses had been imported and asked whether cities could approach local manufacturers to produce buses. He said that there was a challenge in spending money on what the money was allocated for.  No distinction had been made between trunk and feeder system.

Mr G Radebe (ANC) said that there had been wi-fi in certain stations which was used by students and asked whether the wi-fi was still working.

The Chairperson asked how all taxi services would be integrated into one system so that they could move forward.

Ms Seftel and her colleagues responded to questions.  On the question of negotiations with taxi operators, she stated that negotiations were continuing and they were busy with Phase 1C. The demands were, however, high compared with what the City was offering. There had been other unfruitful negotiations. However, there was good news that some contracts might be signed on 19 September 2017. In Soweto, there was no BRT route. There were, however, two taxi associations that were fighting over the Soweto roads and it was not clear with whom City had to enter into agreement. On the question of the people heading to one direction, they had the same answer as the City of Cape Town. However, people could be dropped off on the way to the city. Soweto should not only be a residential place. On the issue of a forum, they responded that there was a mayoral coordinated forum where metros could share their experiences. There were various delays in BRT because of the bridge that had collapsed, the cause of which needed to be investigated. In addition, the community of Alexandra had stopped the city from doing its work. On the question of consultation, the city responded that they had engaged with the communities.  Engagement was time-consuming and required respect. They noted that they had the capacity to perform and to utilise the finances, however, they were challenged by the financial constraints. It was not easy to get money and this required the city to adjust its plans and timeframes. That had impacted on rollout. For example, they could not have signs in all stations.

The Chairperson said that responses should be elaborated in writing and submitted to the Committee.

Tshwane Presentation

Mr Pheko Letlonkane, Group Head: Road and Track (R&T) took the Committee through the presentation. He noted that the City of Tshwane had developed an Integrated Public Transport System (IPTN) aimed at meeting the needs of the people of Tshwane in a sustainable and affordable manner. Areyeng network represented the rapid component of the IPTN and was being developed in a number of phases over a period up to 25 years. With regard to networks, he noted that the network was planned for extension in phases covering key townships like Mamelodi, Mahube Valley Soshanguve, Atteridgeville, and Olievenhoutbosch. At the heart of the city’s developed IPTN and Integrated Rapid Public Transport System (IRPTN) Strategy was the principle of integration between routes and services. The network was developed and approved as part of the Operational Plan in 2014.

Mr Letlonkane noted that the purpose of the presentation was to provide the Committee with progress on the planning, design and implementation of the BRT system in Tshwane; to highlight progress, success stories, challenges and failures experienced; to provide an update on the five-year operational plan and the future implementation of the BRT system; and to highlight activities that would ensure successful rollout and implementation of BRT system within the City of Tshwane

Mr Letlonkane said there is a definite need for a BRT in the City of Tshwane; the public deserves a safe, secure on time, reliable and efficient service. Densification is required in order to limit future implications on all other infrastructure and the BRT is a catalyst for this. The limited expertise in the BRT environment might have contributed to in efficiencies within SA up to date, but capacity has been created and Local Government will start optimising the service and setting appropriate affordable BRT services that can be sustained in the longer term to the benefit of the community. (See attachment).


Mr Radebe asked a question on the compensation model and whether it was meant to subsidise taxis.

Mr de Freitas said that he had been following the situation, and what he knew was that it had been a mess. The new system had messed up the traffic flow to the CBD and some of the businesses along certain streets had, as a result, been destroyed. Bad political decisions had been taken as to how the BRT buses would be operating. Professional opinions had been provided. Would the city continue to implement the same plan that it had started two years ago?

Mr Mbanza, too, asked a question on compensation system. The compensation system could not be allowed to go on unless there was agreement between the city and taxi operators. The money allocated to the BRT system should be used to advance the system, and not to collapse it.

Ms Xego asked for how long BRT buses and taxis had been using the same route. She noted that the duty of the Committee was to conduct on oversight over money that was allocated to the City for the realisation of the BRT system. The City did not make the work of the Committee easier as the expenditure was not elaborated on.

Mr Ramatlakane expressed concerns over compensation plans, the same usage of the route by the BRT buses and taxis, and the buy-out plans. He did not understand the buy-out plans and he wanted the city to provide some narratives around it. How would they actually empower those operators to become something? If one were to say that the plan was to build the SMMEs and cooperatives from small to medium or big, how would that be realised by the existing buy-out plans? Who would become operators if the buy-out plans were taking taxis out of the route? Was it the state or resource-based private individuals? The aims of the BRT were to reduce the negative aspects of transportation through incorporation and coordination of taxis and not by taking them out. He expressed unhappiness over the language used in terms of buy-out because small operators should be empowered to become big. Could the City approach be defined as contributing to economic empowerment? Who was funding the buy-out plans? Was it funded internally or by conditional grants?

Mr Mulaudzi, echoing the statement of Mr de Freitas, expressed concern over the businesses that had been destabilised or destroyed by the BRT infrastructure. He noted that there had been a decision that these business persons could be compensated and sought clarity on what had happened. He asked a question on the allocation of 30% of the BRT system that had to be extended to the SMMEs and cooperatives and about which the presentation was silent. He expected that government policy should be followed and adhered to and that the disadvantaged should not be prejudiced.

Mr Sibande said that the presentation showed that numerous jobs had been created. He felt that job creation was confusing because the percentage of created jobs was not provided. There was no clarity between temporary and permanent jobs. How were the finances managed between Tshwane and Mpumalanga?

The Chairperson expressed concern over the implementation plan of the BRT system, stating that it was initially planned to start from Soshanguve to CBD and to Mamelodi. Would the City say that its services were value for money or aimed at assisting the disadvantaged communities?

Mr Letlonkane responded that there was interim compensation that had been there for two years and that was the reason why taxis and BRT buses were still using the same routes. The priority was to ensure that the compensation was paid, and the usage of the same route would stop. He noted that the small operators had had the opportunity to become shareholders in the big companies. In addition to that, the taxis had remained the feeders. It was only a portion of routes that they had been pulled out of. Those taxis had already been compensated. Taxis drivers were conducting the BRT stations because the City had no intention to pull them out completely. The intention was to build their capacity.

Mangaung Presentation

Ms Olly Mlamleli, Executive Mayor, Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, took the Committee through the presentation which focused on the project overview; financial status; master programme and progress status update and risk management. It included those aspects of the project well executed or to be improved in future phases and challenges faced. She explained the contribution of the project towards a single public transport ticketing system, implementation of universal access and smooth inter-operability.

The metro focused on providing an integrated public transport system that accommodates a variety of public transport modes. These modes form part of the total system and need to comply to the minimum standards set for the system as a whole irrespective of the mode (bus, taxi, metered taxi, rail). Over time, the system will provide integrated ticketing between modes, passenger information, and other system requirements that set the standards for quality public transport services that is regulated and comply with road safety and other regulations. BRT is one of the modes that is considered when selecting optimum mode per transport corridor and is depended on total number of passengers, distance and congestion on the road network. Importantly, all modes need to be integrated and provide scheduled services, comply, overtime, with universal access specifications. The metro will in future need to implement dedicated roadways along specific roads where congestion will become a problem for Public Transport vehicles to progress, this needs to be evaluated year on year with change in projection of ridership.


Mr Mulaudzi said that the presentation alluded to challenges that the city was facing but had failed to indicate remedial measures being taken to address them. He wanted to know the total number of projects that the city had launched, especially around the route of Bloemfontein as the main capital. There were seven routes, which featured in the projects. He asked how the SMMEs and cooperatives were benefiting in the project.

Mr Ramatlakane asked about the question of allocation of money and noted that the money was informed by the project and the funding would indicate whether the project would be funded. Referring to R200 million, he said that the presentation indicated that the balance was R22 million and wanted to know in detail on what the money was spent. What did the city use those millions for? Was there fruitful expenditure? If yes, on which did Mangaung spend it on? He asked whether buses and taxis were incorporated in the system and what were the challenges. Were all communities catered for? Which communities needed transportation most? He expressed concern over consultation services and asked that the city to provide the Committee with a breakdown in terms of percentages. Did the consultancy give value for money? What was the plan for addressing the internal capacity of municipality so that the consultancy could be decreased?

Ms Xego commented that it was a walking city, meaning that people walked to the city. She then asked whether there was a need of the BRT system in the city.

Mr Mbanza said that the city had stated that funding was insufficient. Funds were in the millions of Rand and it did not make sense to him because the question of insufficiency and grants were not talking to each other. There was a contradiction. If there were no contraction, the city should correct him.

Mr de Freitas asked whether the BRT was under the Department of Security. He was happy that the programme had started in townships. He sought clarity on the insufficient capital budget and what money was looked for and how much had been received from conditional grants. What were reasons for delays and why the city was behind other cities?

Mr Hunsinger said that the city would face few challenges in terms of establishing a particular structure of trunk and feeder routes. Linking townships to the city was an easy thing. The city was challenged by funding and the management of the system and it looked as if there was no effective plan and leadership. There was no action plan. The city had to convince the Committee that 11 000 people should not be transported by taxis, but by the BRT buses. Why did the City need a BRT? Why should it not rely on the taxis only?

The Chairperson remarked that there were cities that had procured management capacity because they did not have the capacity to deal with the BRT system. What exactly had the city used the money for? She asked the City to correct her if she was wrong in stating that the money had been used to procure management capacity within the municipality. If this was the case, the Committee would have to visit Mangaung to see that the city had procured people with the expertise to take the project forward.

Ms Mlamleli responded that answers would be submitted in writing and welcomed the Committee to Mangaung to see the project and check what was being done in relation to projects. She noted that R22 million had already been overspent. The projects would be done by the end of October. The issue of the inter-model, as the Committee might be aware, was between Mangaung and the Department of Transport and the spending of R354 million on buildings. The problem was therefore between the city and stakeholders. However, these problems had been sorted. It ought to be noted that Mangaung was only declared a metro in 2011. Other cities had been declared metros much earlier. There were a lot of issues for the City address as a metro. The City had a plan which had been approved by the City Council. The human resource capacity was insufficient and the city was understaffed so they had to rely on consultancy services.

George Municipality Presentation

Mr James Robb, George Integrated Public Transport Network GIPTN Manager: Western Cape Department of Transport, focused his presentation on the project overview, progress status update, risk management, aspects of the project well executed, challenges, and contribution of the project towards a single public transport ticketing system.

He reported that three of the six phases had been implemented in George. The system was an Integrated Public Transport Network designed to achieve appropriate levels of spatial and temporal coverage given the mixed urban / rural nature of the City of George. There were no dedicated bus lanes, and the system currently had no BRT features other than its universal accessibility. Services comprised a combination of main and community services geared towards minimising transfers and costs whilst maximising network coverage. Most residents were within about 400m of the system, with at least 75% being within 800m once the system was fully in place, i.e. taking into account the rural elements and areas not yet operating.

Negotiations with the transport industry were conducted from 2007 to 2014, and contracts were signed in 2014. The Vehicle Operating Company (VOC) was established and was fully operational. The system transported a maximum of 13 700 passengers per day and reached 380 000 trips per month. Phases 1 to 3 covered 109 km of roadway, and in the future Phases 4 to 6 would cover approximately 140 km of roadway. The ticketing system allowed passengers to travel using smartcards, and the intermodal ticketing facilities provided for the development of transport hubs and interchanges where modal transfers could occur.

The Universal Design Access Plan (UDAP) had been prepared over the past three years with the current draft being completed in June 2017. The acceptance of the travel chain concept to guide the provision of universally accessible infrastructure was in progress. The universally accessible compliant standard and accessible mini buses were in service.  He reported that the rollout infrastructure was in place. It included bus stops across the entire Phase 1 to 6 network. Shelter placement was on-going. Currently, 45 standard shelters, out of approximately 180 required, had been placed. Temporary shelters had been installed at major transfer areas requiring larger permanent facilities.

The Committee also heard that Socio-Economic Impact Studies had indicated that passenger fares had remained between R1.50 and R2.50 lower than the previous transport fares. A free transfer was possible within an hour of a passenger’s trip. Transport was guaranteed from around 06h00 to 21h00.Scheduled services allowed improved access to opportunity and reduced trip times. The VOC employed 272 persons, GIPTN Management had 15 field monitors, 22 communication champions, and 56 ticket vendors. The GIPTN had had a positive impact on the industry, local businesses, and the public. The negotiation process with the four local taxi transport associations had been concluded. Although the VOC had been established, there were some disgruntled operators, but the recent mediations between the Department and that group indicated that the negotiations had been fair.

On issues of risk management, he reported that, amongst other things, the GIPTN Management Committee provided governance oversight. There was a targeted, integrated communication strategy in place. The municipality was drafting by-laws for safety and security in conjunction with the South African Police Services (SAPS). CCTV monitoring had been installed on buses and on routes. Improvements to signage and road stations were required. To date, there had been liability claims, and there were 15 accidents per month on average.

Pertaining to aspects of the project which had been well executed, Mr Robb stated that attention had been directed to enhancing the quality of the pedestrian realm. This had opened up opportunities for engaging and possibly partnering with roadside developments to add to the passenger/pedestrian experience. All GIPTN vehicles were as modern as anything in South Africa, with the minibuses having been specially developed to provide Universal Access. The vehicles were all Euro V emission standard and used 50PPM sulphur content diesel. A targeted communication strategy which took the needs, languages, literacy levels and media preferences of the GIPTN target audiences into account, had been implemented. The operating speed of the system could be improved through the implementation of the smartcard system and bus priority at signals, which would allow reduced cycle times. Timetable adherence was a result of driver experience and equipment wires soon to be installed in buses would give them on-route guidance to manage their travel time. A combination of technology though the means of onboard CCTV, road CCTV network and vehicle tracking were in place to improve passenger safety. There was no other functional public transport mode in George, but the GO GEORGE scheduled bus service was designed to interface with intercity buses, and taxicabs as part of a holistic IPTN service. The biggest sustained challenge to the GIPTN remained funding. Given its role in providing access to opportunities for all the citizens of George, the GIPTN was designed to be a municipal service affordable to commuters, and as such fare revenues would never recover the full cost of the service. Financial analysis for capital and operational expenditure and revenues indicated that subsidies would be required to support the GIPTN and moreover, support the socioeconomic benefit that the system was meant to deliver to its citizens. As an interim measure, the GIPTN currently used a paper ticketing system as the fare medium on buses. The introduction of an Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) System was scheduled for the current fiscal year. The AFC system would enable the inter-operability of the GIPTN ticketing systems with other transport systems and modes.

Mr Robb, in his conclusion, stated the IPTN system being implemented in George was suitable for George, and all cities had to independently evaluate the suitability for their context. The system had resulted in a service to citizens that was more reliable, more affordable, more accessible and safer than the minibus taxi industry that it had replaced. It had further achieved the significant milestone of unifying multiple taxi associations in George into a single VOC, and through this had transformed the industry into a formal mid-size, sustainable corporation with empowered shareholders and an elected Board of Directors. This industry transformation would not have been possible other than through the formation of a VOC, linked to a long-term service contract, which an IPTN service was uniquely positioned to provide.

(Tables and graphs were shown to illustrate financial results, planned capital expenditure, and planned operational expenditure)

Rustenburg Municipality Presentation

Ms Nqobile Sithole, Municipal Manager: Rustenburg Municipality, informed the Committee that the Integrated Transport Network covered 80% of local communities. The population in Rustenburg was located largely on an axis shaped as a "V", formed by Rustenburg CBD at the base and the R510 road corridor to the northeast and R104-R565 to the northwest. There were two main public transport corridors in the municipality. The Integrated Public Transport Network (IPTN) had been designed as a full flex system that served the entire municipality. She said the vast majority of households in Rustenburg did not have a car available for private use. Research showed an overwhelming reliance on public transport, in the region of 84%.  The new system would substantially improve public transport service delivery and would support other key city goals and strategies. The process consisted of four phases. Phase 1 covered the densest areas of Rustenburg, and comprised seven closed stations, six open stations, 30 buses, and six taxi associations. With regard to infrastructure progress, she indicated that the CBD stations were currently under review and would be redesigned. Construction in Sections A and C of the CBD had commenced. Nine feeder routes were being verified. The 5,3km Trunk Corridor A and 13 km Trunk Corridor B had been completed. Five station substructures had been completed. The Control Centre was going to be located at the existing BRT offices, and refurbishments were expected to commence during the 2017/18 financial year.

On risk management, Ms Sithole reported that the municipality had started engaging with the taxi industry as early as 2012 with the sole purpose of getting an in-principle understanding by the taxi industry of the BRT concept and its potential impact on their business. There had been meaningful engagements with fruitful outcomes on key issues related to the RRT. The structure of the negotiations had ensured that there had been constant consultation and buy-in by the bus and taxi operators on the ground, over and above the leadership that had represented the industry at the negotiations. The municipality had engaged with plus minus 22 taxi associations during the project inception in 2012. Nine taxi associations had been identified and deemed as affected by the BRT operations and the Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) had been signed with the industry. A six-step process had been outlined and approved by the industry. The Taxi Negotiating Forum had been set up and full-time experts had provided them with technical support. An MOU had been signed with the Bojanala Bus, and the industry was willing to participate in the transformation project.

Ms Sithole further stated that the municipality was committed to managing funds effectively and efficiently. The Public Transport Network Grant (PTNG) funding was managed through the same governance structures as the municipality. Engagements with the Department were held quarterly, annually and on an ad-hoc basis to ensure effective management and spending of grant money via informed decision making. The approach of the municipality was to target sustainable and lucrative routes. The system would be rolled out once the minimum requirements were met with regards to patronage. An annual increase in fares was envisaged and the approach to the system was that of achieving a financially efficient service informed by a business approach. In the initial planning, it was envisaged that the system would consist of a fully-fledged BRT system to "Go Live" in December 2016. However, the economic environment in South Africa had led to numerous changes and this had affected all municipalities, including Rustenburg. Given the extreme budget cuts and pressing "Go Live" expectation that had been set and communicated to stakeholders, the original high-end infrastructure planning, design, and operations were being explored to seek alternative solutions that might be affordable.  She noted that any adjustment regarding the planned design of the infrastructure needed to strike a balance between expectation versus commercial realities without compromising the future status or possible upgrading of the system at a later stage.

Concerning financial planning, she reported that from 2010/11 to 2014/15, the PTNG funding spent was between 52% and 67%, with the lowest amount spent during the 2011/12 financial year. Spending had picked up significantly during the 2015/16 financial year, with 89% of the PTNG budget spent. The allocation to the Municipality by the Department of Transport had decreased significantly and key infrastructure was being implemented. Adjustments were necessary from an affordability point of view as well as the rationalisation of the system, making it more efficient, affordable and sustainable in the long term.

Lastly, Ms Sithole said the BRT was seen as the new era for development, mobility, and transformation in Rustenburg. An incremental approach to infrastructure and services had been introduced. The National and Provincial Government support on the transformational project was crucial for its success. Land policy and critical infrastructure development had been planned to support the economic transformation.

(Tables and graphs were shown to illustrate financial results, planned capital expenditure, and planned operational expenditure)

Polokwane Municipality Presentation

Mr Michel Mubenika, Executive for Systems Planning: Polokwane Municipality, informed the Committee that they had started with Phases 1 and 2. Their planning was based on national policies and linked to the National Development Plan (NDP). To date, they had spent R1, 2 billion. They had taken into account funding issues when they had started the project. The planning percentage had dropped as the project was operationalised. The period 2007/08 to 2012/13 was spent conducting research on the project. Consultation with stakeholders was done during 2013/14. Construction started during the 2014/15 period and was still in progress. The launch of the system was pencilled in for 2018.He reported that Phases 1 and 2 comprised a mixture of the taxi industry and buses. The taxis operated inside the CBD while the buses would go to Seshego, the nearest township, and other townships. The plan was to move 10 000 people per day. Minibuses would be contracted for the CBD as the system was being developed. The plan was to encourage people to use public transport. The majority of people walked. They caught a bus to work in the morning, and they worked back home after work. That had led the municipality to prioritise differently, and buses were being given priority. The by-laws were in place.

Regarding risk management and challenges, he stated that they were involving the private sector in the funding of the infrastructure, and they were having discussions with the Department and National Treasury on reviewing the grant formula because it did not favour small cities and there were funding limitations and operational deficits. The municipality was exploring the option of using Section 33 of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) to appoint consultants for five years because there were delays in the procurement processes.

The municipality had also created a Transportation Directorate which was 75% capacitated and had an internship programme for young professionals. This would help in skills retention, continuity of service providers, and departmental integration. Once the system was operational, the municipality would implement the Safety and Security Plan to enforce law and to fight destructive competition. The Stakeholder Management Plan was in place and there were regular consultative processes in order to get business sector buy-in and to settle community unrest and industry disgruntlement.

He indicated the project had recorded some successes. Significant road infrastructure network upgrades had been completed. There was a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with industry with regards to allowances. Council land had been utilised instead of acquiring private land. Market surveys for Great North Transport (GNT) and the taxi industry had been completed, and a Transportation Directorate had been established.

He made some additional observations on the BRT implementation. He indicated an incremental approach was needed for the implementation of the BRT as part of a citywide IPTN. Phasing was critical and they were starting with a pilot phase that would pave the way for negotiations with industry stakeholders. For the South African context, a hybrid system was required in most instances. He said Land Use Planning should play a bigger role in the implementation of the BRT systems and it should precede any planning. He observed that the BRT was not well suited to low density cities. Transit Oriented Designs were required. A right set of skills was needed to exploit the use of technology and to implement travel demand measures.

(Tables and graphs were shown to illustrate financial results, planned capital expenditure, and planned operational expenditure)


George Municipality Presentation

Mr Sibande wanted to know if there were plans in place to ensure that the system was sustainable and was not relying on grants.

Mr Robb agreed it was not good to rely on grants, but the system had to be subsidised. The town was small and, unlike other big metros, it did not have a big budget. He noted it was important to consider things like climate change, green economy, bio-fuel, etc if they were to reach their vision when it came to the integrated transport system. The time would come when they would make use of an electric mode of transport, and that meant the bus transport system would have to change. They had to deal with the dynamics of the apartheid spatial system because people had to be closer to the Central Business District where they worked.

Ms Xego asked for clarity on the community serviced by Go George; and she wanted to find out if it was possible for commuters to use their tickets with other transport operators in George.

Mr Robb stated that the bus service catered for the indigent and was cheaper than the taxis from the township. It serviced a population of 250 000 people. 

Ms Lee-Anne Meiring, Public Transport Oversight Official, George Municipality stated the business rules did not allow the card to integrate with other transport operators within George and other cities.

Mr Ramatlakane asked for clarity on the issue of “a few” disgruntled transport operators in the George area. He said that, in his last interaction with them, it was a huge group, not a few. They were from Uncedo Taxi Association. He said the issue of licensing permits for taxis was a “take it or leave it” approach. Uncedo felt the money was not going to be sufficient to cover even their bank expenses. The municipality had told the taxi operators had to sort out that matter with their respective banks. He wanted to know if this was an effort to phase out the minibus taxis. He further wanted to establish which route was the feeder in the integrated transport system and which one was not lucrative.

Mr Melvyn Naik, Executive Mayor of George, said that the rollout of phases had happened and they were now stuck on Phase 4 and the disgruntled group. The municipality had agreed to engage with the disgruntled group because the municipality had an open-door policy. Matters had reached a point where that group had to relinquish licenses. That was an on-going process and there was an agreement between that group and the municipality. He said they were trying to make interventions work in order to find solutions.

Mr Trevor Botha, Municipal Manager: George Municipality, stated it might be impossible to do away with the taxis entirely. The municipality was in constant discussions with the operators. The operators had submitted a dispute to the Competition Commission. The discussions had been concluded, but could be re-opened. Pertaining to the route which was a feeder, he indicated they were engaging with SMEs to do the feeder route. He reasoned that it was awkward for bigger buses to go where most of the passengers lived because the infrastructure and roads were never meant for such services. That was the reason they are trying to talk with them. He went on to say the municipality was upgrading the main route between Thembalethu and the CBD because they were closer to rolling out Phases 4A and 4B, although they were experiencing challenges. That had to be done in a holistic way and people located on the route between Thembalethu and CBD had started to open up coffee shops and other businesses.

Due to time constraints, other questions from Members would be responded to in writing)

Rustenburg Municipality Presentation

Mr Sibande, firstly, asked who constituted the risk management of the municipality. Secondly, he wanted to find out if the reason for the request of R2,5 billion on top of the, not yet exhausted, R2 billion initially allocated was because the infrastructure needs on the ground were not equivalent to the money they had. Thirdly, he wanted to establish if there were constant engagements with taxi operators and commuters.

Ms Sithole indicated that there was a risk team that looked at all areas that involved risk. Regarding the request for more funding, she said they needed capacity to undertake more funding. They were allocated R2, 8 billion but had spent R2, 5 billion. Additional funding was from the Department. The money had to be spent quarterly before the end of the financial year. If the money was received in time, they would finish the procurement process and have capacity in place to do the work. She stated that the Municipality engaged with stakeholders, keeping them updated with developments taking place.

Mr Mulaudzi asked what the participation of the mining industry was in the programme as well as that of the cooperatives and SMEs owned by women, youth, and disabled.

Ms Sithole explained the mining industry was not involved in the process because it was under pressure with its own problems and would be involved later. She added that 30% of the work was to be allocated to SMEs as per the regulations. In the Tlabane Route and CBD, the work was allocated to SMEs. That was the standard for all contracts.

Mr Ramatlakane asked for an update on the tender for infrastructure development, and wanted to know what other plans were in place to ensure they met the envisaged shortfall. He also asked for clarity on the legal costs.

Ms Sithole reported that the shortage was to be borne by the city. However, there were engagements with other cities participating in the program. At that stage, there was nothing more that they could reveal. It was a sensitive issue. She stated that the tender had been cancelled and they were looking for cost-effective solutions. That was being discussed with the Department. Regarding the legal costs, she stated the Municipality has won the case and had not spent any money.

Mr Mpanza commented on the sustainability of the project, saying the municipality required a certain percentage of money per annum yet it did not know where the money was going to come from. He said the project was going to be a white elephant because there was no money to sustain it over the required five years. He further asked what the role of the province was in the project because it appeared that the municipality was on its own.

In responding to Mr Mpanza’s remarks, Ms Sithole said the city was implementing a transport infrastructure. Costing was over a 12-year cycle. With regard to provincial involvement, she stated they had not got the issue right and the Committee’s help in that regard would be appreciated.

Mr De Freitas wanted to establish why negotiations with taxis had been delayed since 2012.

Ms Sithole reported they had to get buy-in from all the affected taxi associations. The affected ones had interacted and agreed with the municipality, especially on Phases 1 and 2.

Mr Hunsinger asked for clarity on the planned long-term utilisation of grants. He wanted to establish if the V-shaped corridor would be closed.

Ms Sithole said as far as the grant guidelines were concerned, the municipality did not own buses, but the operating bus company was raising funds. An interim bus company had been established. In future, it would be fully owned by taxi operators and current bus operators. Concerning the closure of the V-shaped corridor, she explained that the dangerous parts were within the V, including the mining operations. They had designed a direct service system where the bus would go there directly and transport people to the CBD. That was why they are not considering the feeder system.

Mr Radebe remarked that the presentation used a language similar to that of PRASA, e.g. legal battles, consultations, unforeseen circumstances, etc. In terms of their plans, it looked like they had already spent the money. But it did not appear that the Committee was seeing evidence of the work supported by such big sums of money. He suggested that the Committee should consider doing an oversight visit to see all the projects and to ensure public funds were used correctly. The Committee had to be accompanied by the Hawks to deal with incomplete funded projects and responsible individuals and companies.

Polokwane Municipality Presentation

Mr Radebe commented that, on budget expenditure, he believed that when they undertook an oversight visit, they would have to interact with the municipality and highlight challenges. He said what impressed him more was to see the utilisation of the Expanded Public Works Program (EPWP).

Mr Hunsinger remarked that the municipality had said nothing about compensation because in a couple of years the budget was going to enter Phases 3 and 4. The municipality would also strike a deal with taxi operators to get out of the trunk and join the feeder route. He asked the municipality to explain what it meant by ‘once-offs’. He also stated he was impressed with the creation of economic hubs because they would help in the integration process where people did not have to be transported to work. Lastly, he indicated that the use of external consultants should not be the main thing in terms of minimising risks.

Mr Russia Chavangu, Manager for Business and Finance: Polokwane Municipality reported that they had made provisions for compensation. The compensation survey was not yet completed, but when it was ready, it would give them an indication of how much would be spent. Currently, they had budgeted R56 million for compensation. About once-off costs, he explained that those costs referred to costs incurred in establishing the VOC to ensure operations were ready to run the business over the 4-year period and to capacitate the industry. He pointed out that consultants were appointed according to Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) regulations to ensure consistency because the municipality did not have capacity internally, and the intention was for skills transference as well as to manage delays in the implementation of the projects.

Mr Mpanza proposed that the Committee do an oversight to see the good story that was being told.

Mr Mulaudzi wanted to know why construction had been delayed in one area of Polokwane because it was disrupting traffic. He wondered if the delay could be attributed to the failure of the contractor to do the work properly or the municipality to project manage the construction, or if it was people in affected areas that were looking for compensation money. Furthermore, he wanted to establish what the risk was in terms of procurement, use of consultants, and whether unfinished projects were just being dumped on the municipality. Also, he wanted to find out how much the city was contributing to the project because for the 2017/18 budget, it had contributed only 0, 7%.

Mr Chavangu reported that the project was meant to be completed by the end of June, but the implementation of the asbestos pipe had had to take priority. The asbestos pipe work should be finalised within two weeks and then they would continue with the project. The challenge was that most of the components for the pipeline had to be imported from an overseas supplier and the goods were expected to arrive at the end of September 2017. That was the reason for the delay. He stated that no projects had been dumped. The suppliers reported regularly for work, and made recommendations. They implemented when they were happy with the recommendations. With regard to contribution from the city, he pointed out the city council’s contribution was going to happen during the 2018/19 financial period. Currently, there was no need for its contribution.

The Chairperson wanted to find out what the results of the survey had indicated about the viability of the integrated transport system; and what the challenges were from the business community.

Mr Chavangu reported when they had done the market survey and the results indicated that many people were relying on public transport. People saw the need for the system. They were working with the taxi industry on proposed solutions and this would be determined during the rollout of Phase 1. The affected taxi associations were part of the business case and they had made sure there was no destructive competition. Pertaining to challenges, he stated they had initially had concerns from the business fraternity about what they were putting in place, but business was now showing interest. Challenges were from the property developers because they did not want to see a bus/taxi rank near their properties, but everything had been negotiated in good faith. He said the plan was to build a taxi rank that was going to have three levels to accommodate the BRT system.

A delegation official informed the Committee all the planning was geared towards making the BRT a success. During the month of October, the municipality would be advertising a concession with the local business community. A successful company would be compensated by the municipality so that the municipality did not exhaust its budget. For example, if roads had potholes and needed rehabilitation, the successful business would do the job and then be compensated by the municipality. The old airport was being earmarked for rehabilitation, but plans were to, firstly, rehabilitate the road leading to the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) so that the BRT could also have a space there.

Mr Radebe remarked that the Executive Mayor had to retain procurement powers and they should not be surrendered to the consultants because the Mayor was accountable, especially if things collapsed. The Chairperson pointed out that the work the municipalities were doing should inform the Department of Transport about issues that need to be looked into. She indicated it was important that quality, affordable and reliable transport was made available to people in order to link them with economic opportunities in the country, and that the BRT system needed a buy-in from all stakeholders to make it a success.

The meeting was adjourned.

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