/ 31 August 2009

Taximen mull options after launch of BRT

As commuters reported disruptions to taxi services in Johannesburg on Monday, the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) said it planned to discuss its ”options” following the launch of bus rapid transit (BRT) system.

Santaco spokesperson Thabisho Molelekwa said he was trying to get hold of people to organise the meeting for later on Monday.

He said he had ”read over the news” that some taxis were staging a go-slow.

Asked if a strike was still on the cards, Molelekwa said the meeting would ”look at those options and see the best option going ahead”.

As the BRT system began its operations on Monday morning, some disruption to services were reported.

Johannesburg metro police spokesperson Inspector Edna Mamonyane said CCTV cameras along the route from Soweto to Booysens were ”not picking up a lot of volume from taxis going from Booysens to the CBD”.

”Normally it’s quite a huge number coming from Soweto to the CBD.”

She said traffic in general was still ”flowing OK” from Soweto.

”[Also] in Twist Street in the CBD there is quite a high volume of taxis that are busy.”

Commuter George Myeza, travelling from Soweto, said he arrived at work an hour late as there were no taxis in Soweto.

Vinolia Mogotlane, trying to catch a taxi at the Randburg taxi rank, said drivers were on a go-slow and only willing to travel to the Noord taxi rank.

‘We are moving’
The Rea Vaya coaches were the new celebrities in town as they completed their first journey from central Johannesburg to Soweto on Sunday.

As the buses travelled around the city in their designated lanes they were greeted by waving, clapping and singing fans.

At every station along the route, some festooned with balloons, long queues of people, young and old, many waving SA flags and singing ”rea vaya” [we are moving], waited to board.

People in wheelchairs also got on the buses, which have been designed to be particularly friendly to the disabled, elderly and mothers with children.

One of the women waiting to board at the Thokoza station said she fully supported the system because ”taxis are scraps … They don’t
treat us all right”.

Another eager commuter said the new buses were perfect for ”people like me”. Stretching her hands over her hips, she said ”in taxis … you are supposed to squeeze, now I know I’m going to get my seat”.

Ticket prices range from R3, R5 and R8 for trips along various parts of the route, from the CBD past Ellis Park Stadium and into Soweto.

The buses are also expected to play a large role in transporting soccer fans during the Soccer World Cup. – Sapa