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Shut down of bus services in Alberton still a major concern for locals

Commuters who used Putco and GWIT buses as their transport from their homes to work and vice versa are negatively affected by the shutdown of the service implemented on December 1. They spend double or triple the amount of what they did before the buses were closed.

Alberton residents cannot seem to keep up with the exceedingly high rises in transport expenditure monthly due to the recent shutdown of Putco and GWIT buses.

This conclusion follows the signing of a new contract between the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport (GDRT) and the buses operating in the province. One of the contract’s requirements is that each bus must carry at least 35 passengers on average per journey, using weekly or monthly season fares.

Sadly, according to Putco’s media liaison manager Lindokuhle Xulu, some shifts on their timetable were cited in the notification from GDRT and determined to be financially impractical because they did not meet the previously indicated requirement. Consequently, continued use of these shifts is not authorised.

“Yes, the passengers overall may have been in large numbers. However, the commuters used different times as per their work hours. This negatively impacted further use of the buses because some trips had way fewer occupants. The continued need for dependable public transport combined with the operational difficulties that forced the municipality to stop providing services in Alberton in 1994 made Putco’s acceptance of this duty more feasible, and this has affected us as well,” Xulu said.

It has been two months and a few weeks since the bus service shutdown, but Alberton commuters are already feeling a heavy load on their shoulders financially.

According to Lizelle Pretorius, a resident of Alberton who used the buses to travel to work, the main concern for her and other commuters is that these bus services were their sole means of saving a portion of their salaries, which is necessary to maintain their houses.

“We plead for help because people struggle to get to work and back home daily. We desperately need the buses taken away from Brackendowns, Brackenhurst, Palm Ridge, Johannesburg, Sandton, and Randburg.

“Lift clubs are charging people between R1 500 to R2 000 monthly. When people use taxis, some must take three just to get into the Johannesburg CBD. I take an Uber daily, which costs me about R1 000 weekly. Then we still don’t make it to work on time,” the concerned local said.

All the affected residents signed a petition pleading with officials to hear their cries.

City of Ekurhuleni’s take

The Alberton Record spoke to City of Ekurhuleni spokesperson Zweli Dlamini regarding the residents’ concerns and how this affects their finances.

Dlamini claims they are offering their services to other areas of the city. But because they were already using other buses as a form of transportation, they had never considered it in the case of Alberton.

“As the CoE, we always want to ensure we provide our people with improved services and that their needs are met. Bus placement in Alberton will depend on the number of people requiring them. However, the matter should be thoroughly explored with all pertinent city stakeholders since it was never in our plans.

“Overall, it is now a component of our plans, and residents should note that it may take quite a long time to reach a mutual understanding as the city since we are short of finances,” he explained.

A last word from Putco

Xulu from Putco said that if they get an opportunity to use their services again in Alberton, they would be honoured to do that, considering that they never encountered major problems moving locals from their homes to places of work and vice versa.

“We sympathise with all impacted travellers and recognise the difficulties they might have in finding alternate transportation at these times,” Xulu concluded.

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