African liveability Mobility

An integrated transport authority launched in Cape Town

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Thursday 18 October saw the launch of the new transport authority, Transport for Cape Town, at City Hall. Transport for Cape Town is a single, centralised authority for all land-based transport in the city, encompassing rail, bus, minibus and metered taxi, as well as active mobility in the form of walking, cycling and skating. The envisioned outcome of this centralised authority is an integrated public transport network with one ticket, one timetable, a unified management structure and enforcement system as well as a single standard and brand.  

In his opening address executive mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater, councillor Brett Herron was clear that this was not the culmination and celebration of things that have been achieved but of the start of a long-term process, “an irrevocable stake in the ground” towards a dignified public transport system that is integrated, seamless, intelligent, affordable, sustainable and safe for all. To help achieve this vision, three memorandums of action between the City of Cape Town and key roleplayers were also signed.

The first was with the University of Cape Town, represented by the dean of faculty of engineering and the built environment, Professor Francis Petersen. He affirmed that the memorandum with UCT cemented an existing working relationship with the City of Cape Town. Besides the advisory function the university provides on technical and research issues, various UCT departments will collectively tackle the unfinished highways “bringing together different disciplines in a team environment with a real-life problem to solve”.

Another academic partnership was cemented with the SENSEable City Lab of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In his presentation Assaf Biderman, associate director of the SENSEable City Lab, showed how the vast amount of online devices are weaving a digital layer of data with the built environment. The SENSEable City Lab – which works at the intersection of people, technology and the urban environment – is exploring ways of exploiting the layer of real-time information in order to develop more efficient and intelligent city systems. They will be working together with the City of Cape Town to further integration and movement at intermodal public transport interchanges as well as looking at managing timing versus quality of service and demand.

CEO for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) Lucky Montana signed the third memorandum of action, emphasising that in PRASA, Transport for Cape Town has a willing and working partner committed to continued improvement of rail services for commuters.

In her speech Cape Town Executive Mayor Alderman Patricia de Lille said that public transport is not just about mobility: “It is about our city’s future: a future where everyone in this city is connected.

Today, we reaffirm that cities can be the drivers of change in South Africa. By committing our resources and our policies towards building the physical connections between people, we dismantle the mental barriers between us.”

To get the wheels rolling, the first order of business in the current five-year timeframe for Transport for Cape Town is to obtain the contracting authority for Metrorail, resulting in greater control over service delivery and standards.

For any transport-related queries in Cape Town call 0800 65 64 63

Read more about mobility in Cape Town in the October edition of City Views, download this transport-related map showing some of the many ways in which you can navigate the CBD. Watch this video by the MIT SENSEAble City Lab: Carlo Ratti and Assaf Biderman explain how the built environment can talk to us, using digital technology.

Text by Alma Viviers. Photographs by Jacques Marais
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