Keep the wheels turning

Keep the wheels turning

Transport is not about buses, trucks, fuel or money. It is about people and dignity. Transporting freight is important, but only because there are people waiting on the other side.

That is what Johannesburg Transport Week was all about: the people who keep the wheels turning – and those who benefit from it.

As part of the city-wide conversation with the residents of Johannesburg, all role- players, community-based organisations, youth and interested members of the public were invited to discuss transport-related issues during Transport Week, which was held at various venues in the city from 5-12 September.

The discussions focussed on increasing public transport and reducing private car use, especially single-occupant vehicles. Improving quality of life for present and future generations, economic opportunities from moving to green fleets and green fuels, the accelerated roll-out of integrated public transport; congestion and its negative impact on growth and productivity; the transformation of public transport and partnerships to promote road safety also received attention.

“Our transport system is central to our economy and people. After years of underinvestment in public transport infrastructure, transportation is poised for a new future in the city,” said Rehana Moosajee, member of the mayoral committee for transport in Johannesburg.

“Much has been done to change the face of public transport in Jo’burg, but ‘positive activism’ is necessary for the city to be ranked among the best in the world. The implementation of the Rea Vaya BRT in 2009 was a huge step forward,” she said.

According to Lisa Seftel, executive director of transport in Johannesburg, people should not live far from their places of work, and employment opportunities should be brought to where people live. “Investments should be made across the city, including in townships, which would create employment close to where people live, so they do not have to spend hours commuting to work.”

Despite the many challenges in the industry, the city wanted to see a well planned and integrated transport system by 2040, Seftel emphasised. “Public transport should be affordable, convenient, safe, reliable and available for long hours, thus making it attractive to all income groups,” she said. “It should include high quality, clean and well-maintained public transport infrastructure such as ranks, termini, stations, stops and shelters.”

In terms of fuel, the city wanted to be environmentally friendly by using energy that did not harm the environment, Seftel explained. Since South Africa had been a world leader in alternative fuel with Sasol, there was huge potential to generate renewable, local, energy that would help create jobs.

“Producing alternative local energy is especially doable with partnerships between the public sector, vehicle manufacturers and alternative fuel producers to overcome issues of regulation and funding,” she said.

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