Golden Arrow Bus Services has listed a litany of concerns about the city’s Integrated Rapid Transit (1RT) project, saying the fares would be 30 percent higher than current prices, which would have a radical impact on consumers.

Golden Arrow says its services along the Atlantic corridor, operated by its empowerment partner Sibanye Bus Services, will come to an end once the first phase of the IRT starts, affecting thousands of poor commuters.

The city plans to have the  first phase of the IRT running on the route towards Atlantis.

Golden Arrow will submit its concerns to the City of Cape Town, which has opened up its IRT business plan for public comment.

Golden Arrow corporate development manager John Dammert says existing passengers will have to migrate to the new “more expensive service” once Sibanye has been pulled from the Atlantic corridor.

‘The IRT model advanced  by the city has borrowed heavily from the South American system. As opposed to Cape Town, most of the South American cities where IRTs have been implemented have high population densities.” said Dammert. In Bogota, Colombia, for example, “the average trip length is only 7km”.

In Cape Town most trips exceeded 20km and some were up to 40km, he noted.

“This militates against the charging of a flat fare (which is a feature of the Myciti system) as this fails the system when the average route length increases.” said Dammert.

In addition. IRT buses were configured with fewer seats and had mostly standing room. This would be “most uncomfortable” for passengers travelling the 50km from Atlantis to Cape Town.

Dammert added: “The fares contained in the city’s business plan are projected to be between 25 percent and 33 percent higher than the current bus fares on the same routes.”

Cape Town’s urban sprawl had a negative impact on bus running times, and led to lower asset utilisation and increased operational costs.

“These variables have not been sufficiently factored into the cost projections of the IRT model, which has to an extent been borne out by the R1.4 billion under-budgeting debacle at the beginning of the year.

“The costs to build the extensive infrastructure and allied support services (law enforcement, ticketing, and fare collection) that IRT requires is considered unpragmatic in a city with a strong rail component,” he said.

And the proposed system “lacks the promulgation” of associated by-laws to incentivise public transport use.

Dammert said competition along the IRT routes would be non-existent.

He said Golden Arrow, the province’s only subsidised bus operator, had participated in consultative discussions with the city regarding the IRT. but “the city has tended to heed the advice and direction of appointed consultants and internal transport capacities”.

The city has invited residents and affected parties to submit comments on its business plan for the MyCiTi IRT system by Tuesday. August 31.

Source: Cape Times – Babal Ndenze