The City of Cape Town’s Transport Development Index (TDI) – the first to be developed in Africa – reveals that 95% of commuters making use of public transport in the city fall within the low and low to medium income groups; furthermore that the low income group spends on average R45 out of every R100 (or 45%) of their monthly household income on transport.

The TDI was developed by Transport for Cape Town (TCT), the City’s transport authority, to evaluate the accessibility and related costs of transport to different income groups and users (the movement of people and goods) across the city.

‘Simply put, the TDI tells us how commuters move around the city and then reveals to us their biggest concerns with their preferred modes of transport in terms of cost, safety, crime, flexibility and congestion. The TDI therefore gives us an honest, fact-based understanding of how residents from different income groups and user groups are impacted by these factors,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member: Transport for Cape Town, Councillor Brett Herron.

As such, the TDI has established the following: 
  • The majority of the population in the low income group are located in remote areas; meaning those among us with a monthly household income of R3 200 and less have to travel between 45 km to 70 km every day to get to work opportunities 
  • The majority of the commuters in the low income group live in Mitchells Plain (approximately 320 000) and Khayelitsha (approximately 250 000)
  • Residents who fall within the low-income group either use public transport or walk to where they need to be 
  • Contrary to the original assumption that 80% of public transport users in Cape Town fall in the low and low to medium income group, this figure is actually as high as 95%, with 48% falling in the low income group and 47% in the low to medium income group 
  • Low income users spend up to 45% of their monthly household income on transport, while the international norm is between 5% and 10% 
  • The highest priority cost for public transport has been identified as flexibility, which clearly means that there is not enough public transport and integration is poor 
  • The TDI revealed that when it comes to freight, congestion adds 10% to the direct costs. Further, freight costs the City R731 million per annum in relation to infrastructure and maintenance

‘Even though these statistics make for uncomfortable reading, this information is invaluable in that it will guide TCT’s service delivery priorities and investment opportunities in the coming years. The case for addressing the cost of transport to the lower income groups is clearly overwhelming and this is why TCT is committed to halving this cost, as well as the costs of the other user groups within the next 15 years,’ said Councillor Herron.
Users are defined as those using public transport, private transport, non-motorised transport such as walking or cycling, and the freight user group who moves goods.

In doing the analysis, the city was divided into 18 geographical regions or transport analysis zones (TAZs) from where the priorities (concerns and problems) for each user group were determined in terms of their income (low, low to middle, middle and high).

The TDI identifies the access priorities or concerns of each user group in the 18 TAZs in terms of: 
  • the direct cost of transport: the cost to travel on public transport or in a private vehicle
  • time (congestion): the cost of the increased travel time due to congestion on the city’s roads 
  • crime: the cost of being involved in a crime incident based on or at a transport mode (bus, taxi, private car), ranging from violent crime to pick-pocketing, theft and muggings 
  • safety: the cost of being involved in a road accident and overcrowding and inadequate facilities as far as public transport is concerned 
  • flexibility: the availability of public transport during the peak hours, the choice between different modes of public transport, the interchangeability between the different modes (bus, train, taxi) and the lack of an integrated payment system (one ticket) across all modes

‘The TDI tells us that the low and low to medium income groups are mainly concerned about the lack of flexibility of public transport in their areas and the safety of these modes; whereas the middle to higher income groups are more concerned about congestion and safety,’ said Councillor Herron.

As such, the TDI identifies the following as the main concerns for the low and low to medium income groups: 
  • Northern corridor (area along the West Coast): flexibility 
  • Kraaifontein: flexibility 
  • Parow/Bellville: safety 
  • Blue Downs: flexibility 
  • Belgravia: safety 
  • Grassy Park: safety 
  • Mitchells Plain/Gugulethu: flexibility and safety
  • Khayelitsha: cost – up to 59% of the low and low to medium income groups in this area identified this as a concern or priority 
  • Somerset West: crime and flexibility 
  • Central Cape Town: safety and flexibility
  • Kuils River: flexibility
  • Durbanville: safety
  • Oostenberg: flexibility
  • Langa/Bishop Lavis: safety 
  • Strand: flexibility 
  • Simon’s Town: flexibility and safety 
  • Wynberg: safety
  • Sea Point: safety

The picture changes somewhat when the TDI identifies the main concerns for the middle and high income groups in these 18 geographical areas: 
  • Northern corridor: safety and congestion 
  • Kraaifontein: flexibility and safety 
  • Parow/Bellville: crime and safety
  • Blue Downs: flexibility 
  • Belgravia: safety 
  • Grassy Park: safety 
  • Mitchells Plain/Gugulethu: safety and congestion 
  • Khayelitsha: congestion 
  • Somerset West: flexibility and road conditions 
  • Central Cape Town: safety and flexibility 
  • Kuils River: flexibility 
  • Durbanville: safety and congestion 
  • Oostenberg: flexibility and safety 
  • Langa/Bishop Lavis: safety and flexibility 
  • Strand: flexibility 
  • Simon’s Town: congestion 
  • Wynberg: congestion and safety 
  • Sea Point: flexibility and safety

‘The TDI can thus be described as a tool to measure and evaluate transport in the city in terms of the first-hand experience of those who use it. This evaluation is done across 18 geographical areas, four income groups and four user groups. Even though the TDI is not a solution to Cape Town’s transport challenges, it identifies the problems that the different user and income groups experience on Cape Town’s roads every day. By knowing these problems, TCT can now determine possible solutions or interventions to address these and adjust our expenditure accordingly,’ said Councillor Herron.

The TDI also reveals the concerns and problems of the freight user group across 10 different freight data zones and in terms of four different users: local deliveries, medium freight, heavy freight and long-distance freight. As such, the TDI has established that: 
  • the direct transport cost (fuel, salaries, maintenance and repairs, toll fees, etc.) for the freight user group is R1,755 billion per annum 
  • the cost of congestion for this user group is R121 million per annum 
  • the cost of safety is R19 million per annum 
  • the cost of crime is R15 million per annum 
  • the impact of freight transporters on Cape Town’s residents in terms of accidents is R930 million per annum 
  • the impact of freight transporters on the city’s road network (capital expenditure and maintenance) is R713 million per annum

Following on from the TDI, the next step was to evaluate Cape Town in terms of the Arthur D Little Mobility Index that is used to measure cities all over the world. It uses 19 different transport-related assessment criteria such as the financial attractiveness of public transport; the share of public transport in the modal split; roads density; cycle path density; smart card penetration; car sharing performance; public transport frequency; traffic-related fatalities; mean travel time to work; and density of vehicles registered, among others.
‘With an overall score of 37 points, the City of Cape Town ranks 73rd out of 85 cities worldwide and 4th out of six in Africa. When compared with other cities in Africa, Cape Town is on par with Johannesburg and Addis Ababa – placing us in the emerging cities category. This means that we need to invest in systems that can integrate different modes of transport and that we have to take action to decrease residents’ travel time to work,’ said Councillor Herron.

Finally, going forward the TDI provides the City with a benchmark against which TCT can measure its performance in eradicating the concerns of transport users from different income levels and geographical areas.

‘The TDI will change the way in which we determine our priorities for the years ahead. We are looking forward to the challenge in improving the mobility of our residents and to addressing their biggest concerns as far as transport is concerned,’ said Councillor Herron.