Stopping future traffic jams: Why Transport for Cape Town’s new powers matter

Public Transport_Bruce Sutherland (c) City of CT (105)

The convenience of careering quickly and affordably through the city contributes significantly to the economic opportunities available in Cape Town, writes Alan Cameron.

But how can the civil servants of Cape Town unstick the city’s notorious traffic jams, a daily reminder of the spatial legacy left by apartheid, which actively promoted urban sprawl? One approach is through catalysing transit-orientated development (TOD).

The approach is that TOD encourages people to live, work and play nearby already-popular transport routes. Why travel to the bus stop, when you can live near to it? The City of Cape Town has empowered the transport department, Transport for Cape Town (TCT), to accelerate progress towards achieving an integrated transport network, linking transport modes and nodes.

New powers entrench the increased authority, longevity, finance and partnerships of the department, according to the ‘Investing in making Integrated Transport a reality in Cape Town’ (PDF) booklet.


Equipped through hard-to-change legislation (By-law, No 7208 of 2013), TCT has the ability to establish and hold power to “drive the transport agenda” through legislation, set standards and attract investment. Control of the finances related to the transport network, operations and systems across the three tiers of organisational structure (operational; corporate; national and international) will enable it to put in place the performance-based service delivery model necessary to achieve its goals.


Integrating public transport is certainly a long-term goal, and this 1000-mile journey is achieved through incremental steps. So the mechanism delivering the goal needs to stand the test of changing times, and political will. By-laws are innately designed for the long haul, and not vulnerable to the five-year political cycle.


Pairing a political champion with a strategic administrator is recognised as a strategy to deliver effective change. The department’s political representation and technocrats within the department will have the same goal, even if they approach it from different ends.


The ability to take a holistic approach is enabled through the municipal land transport fund, the revenue of which is channelled back into the transport authority to advance the state of integrated transport in the city. This will help the City use land bank property, benefitting from its increasing value through the investment of integrated public transport.

Transport for Cape Town has slowly evolved into this new structure, which can only accelerate efforts to densify the city in order for public sector investments like service infrastructure and public transport to become increasingly self-sustaining.


Explore the Transport for Cape Town website.

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