GOLDEN Arrow has postponed the unveiling of 25 new European-style buses, earmarked for the World Cup, pending the outcome of negotiations with the province’s Transport and Public Works Department.

The official unveiling of the new low-floor, air-conditioned buses had been scheduled for yesterday but was cancelled, after invitations had been hand-delivered to the media two weeks ago.

Golden Arrow’s corporate development manager, John Dammert, said yesterday the event had to be deferred “because of a number of issues linked to discussions with the department” and because of the province’s World Cup transport plans.

He said discussions focused on subsidies, the implementation of rhp integrated rapid transit (IRT) system and the province’s transport readiness for the World Cup.

“We are in the middle of discussing a number of issues with the provincial Transport Department,” he said.

“The discussions incorporate a number of things and are at a very sensitive stage.”

Dammert refused to comment further, saying only that the buses would be unveiled soon.

It is not clear how Golden Arrow will fit in to the province’s 2010 transport plan, but Transport and Public Works MEC Robin Carlisle said the bus company would have a role to play. An agreement had to result from the discussions with Golden Arrow, said Carlisle.

“Golden Arrow Bus Services has to help us in 2010. We are discussing and negotiating, and are a bit short of subsidy, but we are talking.”

Earlier. Dammert told the Cape Argus that the city might not be able to deliver the IRT system before the World Cup.

He said the city’s IRT timelines were “extremely tight” given the massive infrastructural and organisational work that still needed to be done.

“The IRT will be a long -term workable solution to the public transport problems in Cape Town, but whether the system will be ready for the World Cup or not – I don’t think so.” said Dammert.

But Kylie Hatton, the city’s media manager, is confident the system will be ready in time. She said talks between the city. taxi operators and Golden Arrow were continuing.

Parts of phase 1A of the IRT, from Table View into the city, would be rolled out from May, in time for the World Cup. said Hatton.

The IRT system is a cashless mode of transport and will run seven days a week from 4.30am to midnight.

Commuters will have to buy a travel smartcard on which they will have to load a travelling fee, similar to loading airtime on to a cellphone, before boarding the buses.

Meanwhile. Fifa says it is monitoring the transport situation, which it acknowledges is one of the challenging elements of the 2010 planning.

Source: Cape Argus – Clayton Barnes