/ 2 March 2011

Transport committee begins meetings

The committee set up to tackle public transport issues in Gauteng, including the controversial tolling system, met for the first time on Wednesday, the national department of transport said.

“A Gauteng Public Transport Steering Committee chaired by director general of transport, George Mahlalela, held its first in a series of meetings today to discuss solutions to the public transport challenges facing Gauteng,” said spokesperson Thami Ngidi.

“They will be in meetings for the rest of the week.”

The committee comprises representatives of the national department of transport, the Gauteng department of transport, the Gauteng office of the premier, the City of Johannesburg, and the Tshwane and Ekurhuleni municipalities.

Ngidi said it also included the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral), the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, Gautrain Management, the South African National Taxi Council, the South African Bus Operators Association, political formations, organised labour, organised business and commuter organisations.

He said the fate of the toll tariffs would be decided by the end of March.

“The tolling issue is an urgent matter and has to be sorted out … we will have more clarity on it by the end of the month.

“We will also have a public transport plan and a plan for funding … if we only deal with the tolling issue then we will still have issues with traffic and congestion”.

Tempers flared after Sanral announced last month, that in June it would start charging 66c/km at the 42 electronic toll gates erected on the N1, N3, N12, N17, R21 and R24. The tolls cover a distance of about 185km.

Concern was raised by businesses, labour and political parties, about the effect toll fees will have on the poor, the economy and alternative routes.

Ndebele announced a suspension of the toll tariffs last week.

Ngidi said the department had committed to finding “short-term remedial and relief measures” to public transport in Gauteng.

“This includes increasing the fleet of buses, taxis and coaches on critical routes, developing a compact for coordination between taxi, bus and rail operators.

“These included dedicated lanes for public transport vehicles and for private vehicles carrying three or more passengers, the so-called High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes”. — Sapa