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TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
11 August 2004
UCT INSTITUTE OF CIVIL ENGINEERING: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Mr J Cronin
Documents handed out:
Institute briefing: "The Problematic Relationship Between Urban Passenger Transport and Housing Policy in South African Cities"
The Institute of Civil Engineering at the University of Cape Town presentation outlined how low-income housing policy and public transport policy were often not in sync and occasionally counterproductive. It recommended that South Africa consider inexpensive modes of transport such as the rapid bus transport systems implemented in Latin America. It maintained the need to create high-density corridors to enhance the efficiency of public transport, and to manage freeways so that public transport could move unimpeded by general traffic. The Chairperson suggested the Committee write a report of recommendations for the Department, based on the information contained in this presentation.
Institute of Civil Engineering briefing
Mr Robert Behrens primarily presented his and colleague Mr Peter Wilkinson's research. He outlined that low-income housing developments were still located far from major business centres and primary transportation sources. Such periphery subsidised housing was then analysed in terms of its impact on travel patterns and "urban passport transportation systems". The findings of four research studies were synthesised and he concluded that short-term savings on land development projects were often outweighed by long-term public transportation costs. Potential problems in integrating land use and transport planning were discussed, and possible solutions were presented.
Mr J Phungula (ANC) referred to the "aggressive defence of the urban edge". He questioned whether land could be made available, noting that it was difficult to prevent land invasiona. Mr Behrens agreed and argued that defending the urban edge should take all necessary factors into account (such as increases in population, housing and land demands), given the risk of dramatic property price increases which negatively affected the poor. Serious defence of the urban edge necessitated assessment of available land supply, particularly that owned by the government.
Mr S Farrow (DA) asked about the feasibility of building high-rise housing close to business centres. Mr Behrens responded that high-rise did not always correlate with high density. He argued that it was necessary to pursue a two-pronged approach, since a certain population density was necessary to make a public transportation system economically efficient. He maintained the need to create high-density corridors to enhance the efficiency of public transport, and to manage freeways so that public transport could move unimpeded by general traffic.
Mr Farrow asked if any consideration had been given to building business centres closer to low-income housing developments. Mr Behrens stated that land availability was not the issue in such matters. Rather, it was an issue of investors feeling comfortable with building in a particular area.
Mr Farrow asked what other modes of transportation, such as monorails, might provide possible solutions. Mr Behrens noted that more sophisticated modes, such a lightrails and subways, would be more expensive and less effective in the South African context. He recommended that South Africa consider simpler, less expensive measures, such as the rapid bus transport systems implemented in Latin America. Such systems allowed for greater capacity at lower cost.
Ms B Thomson (ANC) questioned whether it was wise to promote subsidies for rural housing given the problem of transportation costs in metropolitan areas. Mr Behrens stated that the wisdom of such subsidies depended on the travel patterns of the potential beneficiaries. In-depth studies were needed to better understand the 'survival strategies' of rural inhabitants. If it was determined that most rural inhabitants commuted into major cities for work and other survival-related purposes, then it might be necessary to reconsider rural housing subsidies.
Mr L Montana (Department) asked how employers might move work closer to those in need of employment. Mr Behrens argued that the most promising means involved municipalities making themselves more financially attractive to potential investors. For example, easing start-up costs would be a feasible financial incentive.
The Chairperson stressed the importance of aligning the Transport Department's work with that done by the Housing Department and Local Government to avoid counterproductive policies. He also argued for the further study of Latin American examples of effective transportation systems. He suggested the Committee write a report of recommendations for the Department, based on the information contained in Mr Behrens' presentation.
The meeting was adjourned.
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