A critical review of the GoGeorge BRT system: Examining the success of Phase 1 of the GoGeorge BRT system; based on a tourist perception

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Abstract Summary
Bus Rapid Transit systems have been extensively promoted as an alternative mode of transport to that of private vehicles, minibus taxis as well as rail transit, and boast reliability, flexibility and affordability for immediate and peripheral communities. Various South African municipal tiers devote annual budgets to upgrading road networks and infrastructure and the implementation of alternative public transport modes to improve the lives of their respective communities, in an effort to do away with private vehicles and traffic congestion, resulting in a more sustainable livelihood and financial stability of the community, regardless of social status (Lucas, 2011). For any public mode of transport to be regarded as succefully implemented and operational, therefore serving as a catalyst for the transition from private transportation to public transportation usage, three key factors of affordability, flexibilty and reliabilty should be the forefront focus. The lack of an integrated/hybrid public transport system which is succcesfully operating using the three aforementioned focus points is lacking in most South African cities, resulting in a negative blow to the South African socioeconomic development, in that commuters who earn below the minimum income bracket end up sacrificing safety of a transport system for a more affordbale option (Breda, 2019), by making use of unregulated minibus taxis. The City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality has successfully begun to transform the city scape of the South African capital, especially notable in public transport initiatives by introducing the Are Yeng BRT system and integrating the required BRT infrastructure into the existing road networks and various nodes within the city. Despite the successful implementation of the Are Yeng BRT system low ridership numbers threaten the sustainability of the BRT initiative as per Dr. Ismail Vadi’s 2017 speech at the 36th Southern African Transport Conference, in his then capacity as the Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport as follows: “Current BRT ridership is not that great. We have already invested around R15 billion in the system in the three metros, but Gauteng ridership is not more than 75 000 people per day. When fully in place, BRT will comprise 700km of dedicated bus lanes. “We have to ask some serious questions. Should we have gone for something more affordable and more viable? Do we need such fancy stations? We are spending around R50 million to R70 million on each BRT platform. We must learn from this; we need to increase ridership and reduce costs.” (MEC Ismail Vadi, Southern African Transport Conference, 2017) Several media houses report turf wars between the minibus taxi and public bus transport systems, with allocated routes and regulation/governance at the centre of the conflict; creating further distance between the goal of multi-modal transport integration desired by the national government; resulting in the lack of reliable public transportation. _____________________ The GoGeorge BRT system in the Western Cape Province is as a result of the George Municipal Sector Plan, which prioritises a Comprehensive Integrated Transport Plan (CITP) whereby transport corridor and land use integration (George SDF, p. 24, May 2019) are key, in that the upgrading and development of transport corridors in the George area should unlock prospective developments that will enhance the George city landscape and local economy. In addition to the aforementioned, the George Spatial Development Framework, May 2019, vision directive states all ‘plans and their implementation must be inclusive and transformative – making lives better for the poor’ (George SDF, p 25, May 2019).
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3: Planning for Urban Connectivity
Senior Town Planner
Runners Inc. & Partners (Pty) Ltd
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