Editor's noteOpinion

Rea Vaya still has some way to go

EXPERTS have given Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit a 10 out of 10 rating for infrastructure excellence.

The news was welcomed by Mayor Parks Tau, who said the municipality looked to the system as an opportunity to reduce private car usage.

Rea Vaya is, by all standards, a world class public transport system – but only on paper. Johannesburg citizens have, over the years, had very little choices in terms of public transport.

Most people have been limited to ‘coffins on wheels’, and have had to put up with rude drivers and marshals at Noord and Bree taxi ranks. Another option was the municipal buses, which are not known to be in the best of shape.

The constantly overcrowded Putco buses are so badly maintained they break down at every turn or are never on time, while Metrorail is for the brave, or desperate.

Enter Rea Vaya: the buses are clean, well-maintained, safe and always arrive on time. They have indeed raised the public transport stakes. But to rate them 10 out of 10 is taking matters a bit too far.

The experts who attended the world mayor conference, the Metropolis Annual Meeting in Sandton, were that impressed, but perhaps they felt they owed Tau for being a good host.

For Rea Vaya to be world class, it must be taken closer to the people. As matters stand, passengers in certain areas, who don’t live near a Rea Vaya station, still have to find alternative transport home.

In addition, the Auckland Park route should be opened: the infrastructure is rotting before serving the purpose for which it was built. UJ students need the buses on that route, and so do thousands of workers.

Lastly, not everyone lives in Soweto and works in the city centre. Rea Vaya must be for all residents of Johannesburg: Randburg, Sandton, Rosebank, Midrand, Fourways, Alexandra and other areas all need Rea Vaya.

Until then, all Rea Vaya does is boost the image and egos of Tau and the municipal transport authorities.

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