Establishing a world class public transport network

The MMC for transport, security and emergency services, Moses Sekakanyo

The MMC for transport, security and emergency services, Moses Sekakanyo

The Mangaung metro area is characterised by a lack of quality public transport services, and this has an impact on the city's economic competitiveness, environmental wellbeing and the creation of socially equitable society.

The metro faces mounting challenges in transporting people and goods within its boundaries with the majority of the city's 800 000 residents depending on public transport, which is generally overcrowded at peak times and often unsafe, inconvenient and unreliable.

The MMC for transport, security and emergency, Moses Sekakanyo, says: "Coupled with growing personal wealth, this is causing people to switch to private motor vehicles, leading to increased congestion and negatively affecting public and private transport.

"On the one hand, it is important to ensure that land use planning is done in a manner which supports public transport, but on the other hand it is also critical to ensure that mass public transport promotes and supports urban restructuring and sustainable urban development.

"If such a system is to improve the overall functionality and image of the city, then the integration between transport planning, land-use planning, urban design and urban management is vital."

There is also an adverse environmental impact of the increased reliance on private vehicle for transport in the city.

These trends are unsustainable and create significant social inequities and increasing pressure on the metro's transport infrastructure.

The poor and low income working people have traditionally had to live in areas far from their places of work, resulting in increased transport costs and high percentages of household incomes being spent on transport.

As is the case in most South African cities, the urban structure of Mangaung is inefficient, with relatively long travel distances between lower-income residential areas and job opportunities.

This problem is exacerbated by the significant number of commuters who have to travel very long distances daily between their homes and workplaces, which are mainly in the Bloemfontein area.

The modal split between workers who rely on public and private transport respectively currently stands at 60/40, which is better than in other South African cities.

For example, in Tshwane, a ratio of 40/60 (public/private) is currently the case.

The National Land Transport Act requires that cities aspire to a modal split of 80/20.

The minibus-taxi is the dominant public transport mode at 33% of all morning peak work trips, with buses at 15%. A substantial component of all morning peak trips in the metro area are on foot.

It is clear that Mangaung needs to urgently address its transport problems if it is serious about addressing its social, economic and long term environmental challenges.

Globally, best practice in urban public transport provision is the creation of seamlessly integrated modes of transport. These may include buses, light rail and non-motorised transport (walking and bicycles).

In Mangaung, the integration of the different rail, bus, minibus and non-motorised transport options promises to deliver more convenient and cost-effective public transport services.

To this end, the metro is embarking on a creation of its own integrated public transport network (IPTN).

The overall aim of this initiative is to improve residents' quality of life by providing an integrated public transport network that is fast, safe, secure, convenient, clean, affordable and socially equitable through the following:
• Providing a fully integrated public transport network covering the expanse of the Mangaung metro area with appropriate transport services based on rail, road and non-motorised options;
• Implementing the system within the necessary timeframes;
• Delivering a high-quality transportation system that will attract existing car users and enhance the travel experience of current public transport customers;
• Reducing the average travel time in the metro area and reducing the capital and maintenance expenditure on the metro's road budget; and
• Reducing traffic congestion as people become less reliant on private cars due to a better public transport service.

The way forward
A budget proposal was submitted by the Mangaung Municipality to the department of transport and the national treasury, motivating for the allocation of public transport grant funds (R20-million) for the 2011/12 financial year (funds were later rolled over to the 2012/13 year) for planning and implementing an IPTN in Mangaung.

After an initial unsuccessful bid procurement process initiated in September 2011, a second procurement process was followed, which culminated in the appointment of a professional service provider, BDO Consulting, in May 2013 to oversee the detailed planning and design of Mangaung's IPTN.

Its key objective is to provide a new, seamless and attractive multimodal public transport service to the people of Mangaung as a whole.

The IPTN planning process is expected to be complete during the current financial year, with implementation commencing during the 2014/15 year. The city is currently at the first phase of public engagement process.

The physical establishment of an IPTN for the Mangaung metro will be preceded by a detailed planning process, which has recently started and will take place during the rest of 2013 and into 2014 over approximately 12 months.

The planning process will include a range of activities that are prescribed by the national department of transport and are required to achieve a technically viable and cost-effective system.

The planning process will include the following five main work streams:
• Operations plan;
• Business plan;
• Marketing and communications plan;
• System and infrastructure planning and design; and
• Project management.

The implementation phase is expected to start in 2014.

Contents and photographs for this page were supplied and signed off by Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality