Golden Arrow Bus Services, one of Cape Town’s largest bus operators, has poured cold water on the city’s planned integrated rapid transport (IRT) system, saying its implementation timetable is too tight and unrealistic.

“We don’t believe it’s possible to get the IRT going before the 2010 Fifa World Cup as massive infrastructure construction has to occur before then,” Golden Arrow CEO Nic Cronjé told

“Only some of the work has been started and we believe tenders for most of these projects haven’t been issued.” These included bus stations and buses.

A more important issue, however, is the formation of the companies which will operate the IRT. With not much over a year to go, negotiations have only just begun on their structure and shareholdings. “In our minds, there’s not sufficient (time) left to get it going,” said Cronjé.  The IRT project aims to create a scheduled public transport system and is to be implemented in phases up to 2018, with the first pencilled in before June 2010.

The city of Cape Town is driving the project. It has been meeting resistance from the taxi industry, which has threatened to disrupt the plan if it goes ahead without its blessing.

Golden Arrow, which will be one of the IRT operators, said however it is not waiting for the project to be implemented. “We’ve invested in 25 new buses at R2m apiece to give the city a world class service,” said Cronjé.

Those will be deployed to service the inner city, so that any IRT implementation delay does not cause serious congestion during the World Cup.

Cronjé said the IRT is a long-term opportunity to modernise the city’s transport system, which could significantly reduce congestion over the next two decades.

Source: Fin24