The City’s Mayoral Committee Member: Transport for Cape Town, Councillor Brett Herron Councillors,
Representatives from National Government and the Western Cape Government TCT Commissioner, Melissa Whitehead,
Representatives of the business community,
Members of the media.
Good morning, goeie môre, molweni, as-salaam alaikum, shalom.
Thank you for joining me today for this important conversation about traffic congestion in our city.
I was fortunate – it took me five minutes to get here from the Civic Centre, but I am sure that some of you in the audience took the N1 from the northern suburbs this morning and probably travelled for 75 minutes to the city, if not longer.
In 2013, the TomTom global traffic index revealed that Cape Town is the most congested city in South Africa, with a global ranking at 55th place.
The survey also revealed that motorists are spending an extra 71% of their time in traffic.
We are also the fastest growing city in the country, with a growth rate of 30% as the 2011 Census recorded.
Congestion comes at a great cost, with time and money being lost, but also in terms of pollution and its long-term effect on our living environment.
We are here today to discuss with our partners – in national and provincial government, the business community, investors and our residents – the effect of congestion on our quality of life and the city’s economy in general.
We must work together to alleviate congestion and to see how we should change our actions going forward if we want to avoid the dreadful situation where our roads will be in constant gridlock for most of the day.
We do not have a choice. We all have to adapt and we will have to change our behaviour as residents if we want to live in a city that works in terms of the efficient movement of goods and people.
The different spheres of government and the private sector will also have to work together to find economically sustainable long-term solutions to ensure that we meet the travel demands of a population which is predicted to increase to approximately 5,6 million in 2032.
Transport for Cape Town’s latest statistics confirm that the morning peak-hour period on the city’s major arteries has already increased from 07:00 to 09:00 (two hours) to the current 06:00 to 10:00 (four hours) within two years.
We also see that more and more residents are leaving their houses at 05:00 in the morning to avoid traffic congestion on their way to work.
The current situation, as some of you experience on a daily basis, is already untenable.
We have to act.
Today I propose that the City put forward an amount of R750 million over a period of five years for road infrastructure projects to address the issue of traffic congestion to begin to alleviate the major pressure points.
The Kuils River area around Bottelary, Amandel and Saxdown Roads; Kommetjie around Ou Kaapse Weg and Kommetjie Road; and the Blaauwberg area around Plattekloof, Blaauwberg and Sandown Roads are among some of the first pressure points to be addressed.
Further pressure points that the Congestion Programme will be covering include congestion along the M3, M5, N1 and N2 freeways, the V&A Waterfront and foreshore.
We will propose that the R750 million is spent in accordance with a Congestion Management Programme – a document that is being finalised to be approved by Council by the end of the year and which prioritises the congestion points across the city and how we can begin to address this in terms of infrastructure, operations and behavioural change.
In fact, we have already responded by allocating R40 million in the current financial year for addressing traffic congestion.
We will also take the lead in investigating travel demand management and how this can be applied to the City by way of flexi-time for City officials and car-sharing initiatives.
Without operational and behavioural change projects running alongside infrastructure intervention, we will not have a sustainable approach.
Merely building more roads is not a viable and long-term solution because the more roads we build, the more private cars we get onto these roads.
The City is not the only role player or responsible party.
We are eager to lure private vehicle owners to public transport and we are committed to making public transport more affordable and comprehensive.
In this regard we need our colleagues from the National Government to work with us.
There are a number of interventions from an operational perspective that the City has embarked on that directly or indirectly begin to tackle the congestion issue.
First, to address both the cost of public transport and the integration of the different modes of transport – rail, BRT, bus and minibus-taxi – the City’s transport plans require TCT to act as the single authority over all road-based public transport.
TCT is currently responsible for the planning and implementation of the MyCiTi bus rapid transit mode within our public transport network.
In reality, our MyCiTi footprint is still relatively small and we are carrying a small percentage of the city’s daily commuters.
On the other hand, the Golden Arrow Bus Service (GABS) is providing a scheduled bus service to hundreds of thousands of daily commuters and does so under a month-to-month contract with the Western Cape Government.
This is the obvious place to start to address modal fragmentation and the subsequent inconvenience and cost to our commuters.
TCT should be the contracting authority for GABS since this will give us the opportunity and the responsibility to integrate and align GABS and MyCiTi services with each other and ultimately with Metrorail.
The City submitted an application to the National Government for the assignment of the contracting authority function which relates to this scheduled bus services contract in October 2012, and for the municipal regulatory authority function in May 2013.
Unfortunately we are still waiting for the Minister of Transport to respond.
Once we have the assignment of the function, we will reassess the GABS routes and realign them so as to improve the service’s coverage and connectivity with other modes, set the service delivery standards, and introduce the myconnect ticketing system.
With the integration of the MyCiTi, GABS and Metrorail services, our commuters will start to experience flexibility, and with the roll-out of the myconnect ticketing system across the board, a trip becomes one journey with one fare regardless of transfers across different modes or services – and so we begin to drive down the cost of transport.
Secondly, we also need our partners in the private sector to explore with us how we can contribute to traffic demand management initiatives as well as incentivising employees for making use of public transport.
We need business and investors to assist us with expertise and money in finding long-term solutions because in the end, congestion comes at a great economic cost.
The City has already introduced traffic demand management measures in its new MyCiTi tariff structure.
This is, however, not enough. Coupled with such interventions, we will be exploring other initiatives including car-sharing and more enforcement on our bus, minibus-taxi and taxi (BMT) lanes.
We need to partner with our stakeholders to see a true change.
When it comes to behavioural changes to address congestion, this is probably the most critical of the three-pronged approach as it will change the way in which the city functions.
Interventions which the City will unpack and implement over the next five years include flexi-time and new working hours.
Most importantly, our residents will have to change their travel behaviour and attitude towards public transport and non-motorised transport such as walking and cycling.
We all have to become less dependent on our private cars, not as a matter of choice, but as a matter of urgency.
In conclusion, I thank all who are in attendance today.
The City is serious about tackling the congestion problem and our commitment is substantial.
I call on all of you to join us in committing to work in partnership to address traffic congestion, thus making this beautiful city more functional so that we can make progress possible together.