Andrew Boraine, CEO of Cape Town Partnership was privileged to be invited by Mayor Dan Plato last week to join a team consisting of Deputy Minister of Transport, Jeremy Cronin, Premier Helen Zille, MEC for Transport Robin Carlisle, Mayco member for Transport Councillor Elizabeth Thompson, business leaders and the City’s IRT team to inspect the progress being made with the construction of the new Integrated Rapid Transport System.
The good news that huge progress is being made. It is incredibly exciting to see the red reinforced-concrete lanes beginning to connect Blouberg to the CBD and the new stadium, and to be able to imagine a system of decent affordable public transport criss-crossing our city in a few years time. It is clear that the City’s IRT team has stepped up a gear.
The IRT is beginning to live up to its name, that is, the construction of an integrated transport system rather than just a new bus system. Just go to the new IRT station being built adjacent the existing Esplanade/ Woodstock rail stations. Even though this is part of phase 1a of the IRT system, one can immediately see how it will complement the existing rail system and provide easier access to and from the West Coast region for all communities in Cape Town. The new IRT station in Woodstock will also complement plans by PRASA and Intersite to develop over the railway lines from CT Station to Woodstock over the next ten years, as well as open up the potential development of Culemborg.
It was also amazing to see the ‘thin red line’ beginning to snake through the disused railway corridor in the middle of Paarden Island. I have no doubt that this section of the IRT will contribute to an urban renaissance in Paarden Island within the next five years – a good example of the potential of transit-led development.
It was also very pleasing to see visible proof of cooperation between the three spheres of government on the Cape Town IRT project. As we know, national government is funding a great deal of the new system, and is playing a key role in bringing the taxi industry on board. It is essential that this cooperation continues.
The City has also undertaken to communicate more frequently about the new public transport system. This is to be welcomed. Just as with preparations for the 2010 World Cup, excellent work is being done on the IRT system by teams of councillors, officials, consultants and contractors, which is not communicated in such a way that ordinary citizens can become ambassadors for these projects. At the end of the day, it is only when those of us who are currently reliant on private motor vehicles, get out of our cars and on to the ‘’bendy busses’ that the IRT system will become sustainable.