/ 16 December 2009

Jo’burg signs first BRT agreement with taxi industry

The Jo'burg council and taxi industry have signed an agreement to remedy loss of income for operators following the introduction of the Rea Vaya buses

The Johannesburg council and the city’s taxi industry have signed an agreement to remedy the loss of income for taxi operators following the introduction of the Rea Vaya bus service.

In a joint statement by the city council and the taxi industry on Tuesday, they said 167 operators had agreed to take their vehicles off the road in return for compensation from the city.

The Rea Vaya buses transport the equivalent number of passengers to that of 167 minibus taxis.

A total of R3 167 000 has been handed out in compensation to affected operators and the last compensation cheques would be handed over on Tuesday.

In terms of the agreement, all the taxis handed over would be stored by the city until the bus operating contract was signed.

”If the vehicle owner becomes a shareholder of the bus operating company, then the city will either scrap or resell the vehicle for the operator,” the parties said.

They added that some of the proceeds of this sale would be transferred as equity in the new company and the remainder would be returned to the taxi operator.

Eric Motshwane, the chairperson of the Greater Johannesburg Regional Taxi Council and a member of the negotiating team, said the signing of the agreement and the removal of vehicles from the Rea Vaya route was a sign that there was no turning back.

”We have learnt a lot through these negotiations and we are now a formidable team confident that we can take over and run a professional commercially viable bus operating company, providing safe, affordable and reliable public transport,” he said.

The agreement comes after negotiations between a team of city of Johannesburg officials and 29 representatives of more than 300 operators.

These representatives were nominated by more than 800 operators from nine of the 10 taxi associations.

The 800 operators are those with licences to operate on the Rea Vaya Phase 1A route and an interest in becoming shareholders of the first Rea Vaya bus company.

Member of the Johannesburg mayoral committee for transport, Rehana Moosajee, said: ”I am very impressed with the dedication and determination of the negotiating teams.

”They have made significant progress and are on track to sign a bus operating contract which will herald in the full roll out of Phase 1 A,” she said.

There are currently 40 Rea Vaya buses on the trunk route from Regina Mundi in Soweto to Ellis Park.

The full phase 1A of Rea Vaya involves 143 buses and it will include routes from Protea Glen, Mofolo Park, Naledi, Eldorado Park and a redesigned inner city circular route. — Sapa