The City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee on Monday 20 March 2017 recommended that Council adopt the draft Travel Demand Management Strategy (TDMS) when it meets next week. The strategy proposes practical solutions to alleviate the traffic congestion on Cape Town’s road network.
“The draft Travel Demand Management Strategy was issued for public participation in October last year when we asked residents and interested parties to comment on the City’s proposals on how to change motorists’ travel behaviour. We have received overwhelming support from residents who have also made valuable contributions in terms of how we can all pull together to reduce the number of private vehicles on our roads,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development, Councillor Brett Herron.
The City’s Transport and Urban Development Authority is spending R750 million on road infrastructure projects over a period of five years to address congestion in Kommetjie, Kuils River and Blaauwberg. However, building new roads alone will not solve this challenge in the long-term. Experience the world over has proven that new road capacity is usually taken up within a matter of months and that construction cannot stay ahead of the growing demand due to rapid urbanisation.
As such, interventions to address and change commuter behaviour – how and when they travel – are needed to complement the City’s road infrastructure projects.
“The only way out of constant gridlock is by changing our travel patterns and our over-reliance on private vehicles. The strategy proposes practical solutions. For example, by implementing flexible working hours or remote working arrangements for employees, we will have fewer private vehicles on the arterial routes during the traditional peak-hour periods. The City will lead by example. As a large employer, we expect our implementation of this strategy to lead the way and in the next few months some officials will be allowed to work remotely from satellite offices for a number of days or hours a week, to begin and end working at non-standard times within limits set by management, or to work from home during the peak and then travel to work during the off-peak period. I will also share these proposals with our counterparts at the Western Cape Government, which employs a large number of officials who travel to the Cape Town CBD every day,” said Councillor Herron.
With the implementation of the City’s new Organisational and Development Transformation Plan (ODTP), the administration has been divided into four geographical areas to focus on and improve service delivery to communities in those areas.
“This decentralised management model will make it easier for the City to implement the proposals in the TDMS because, in terms of the ODTP, a significant number of officials can be redeployed from central offices to satellite offices where they can work more efficiently,” said Councillor Herron.
Although the TDMS mainly focuses on the interventions that the City can make, residents and local businesses – in particular those with offices in central business districts – must also explore similar possibilities.
“Many residents spend three hours on the city’s arterial routes during the peak-hour traffic periods because historic and inflexible working hours require us to start and finish working between 08:00 and 17:00. Cape Town’s spatial and geographical layout also exacerbates traffic congestion because commuters travel in the same direction towards centres of employment. We therefore need the private sector to investigate how they can better manage their employees’ working hours. Apart from working from home or flexi-hours, private businesses can allow some employees to work a compressed work week. This means fitting a five-day work week into four days instead. Apart from alleviating congestion, spending less time on the roads will improve employees’ productivity and lifestyles significantly,” said Councillor Herron.
The TDMS also makes proposals on how residents should be encouraged to make more sustainable travel choices, be it by using public transport services and walking or cycling where feasible, or car-pooling.
“Congestion affects all of us and we must share the responsibility in doing something about it. I often hear motorists who drive alone in their cars complaining about bumper-to-bumper traffic. It is ironic because those among us who are travelling in single occupancy cars are the very cause of the problem that we are complaining about. Residents who live and work in the Cape Town CBD can use the MyCiTi bus service, walk or cycle, or use a taxi. Car-pooling could be a practical option for those living further away. Residents who live in close proximity to one another and work in the same area could drive together. It may take some effort to arrange in the beginning, but once the pattern is established it could easily become a habit. The more residents buy into this idea, the fewer single occupancy cars we will have on the roads. What is more, it will save commuters a lot of money for fuel and it will save our environment because we will have less air pollution,” said Councillor Herron.
Increasing the cost of parking and ultimately reducing the availability of parking bays counts among the interventions that the City can take over time to reduce the attractiveness of private vehicle use to business districts.
Measures such as parking cash-outs for large employers (starting with the City) can be used to encourage officials to use other modes of transport – thus, employees who have subsidised parking or get it as part of their remuneration package are offered the cash equivalent of the parking cost.
“In the end we want fewer cars on the road during the peak-hour periods, less congestion, and reduced travel times for all commuters at all times. We want to see more people walking, cycling, riding together, and using public transport. It is possible to achieve these goals if residents and the private sector join the City in our efforts,” said Councillor Herron.