The City of Cape Town has invested R17 million in new vehicles for the Dial-a-Ride (DAR) service for commuters with special needs. The new fleet consists of 13 vehicles and will be fully operational by mid-January 2022.

Councillor Rob Quintas, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Mobility, yesterday visited the DAR depot in Parow Industria to view the new vehicles, some of which are equipped with special technology for transporting commuters in wheelchairs.

All-in-all, the fleet can accommodate 64 seated passengers with special needs and 56 passengers in wheelchairs per trip. Apart from the specialised equipment to lift wheelchair users into the vehicle, the buses are also fitted with cameras and tracking devices so that the vehicles can be located at any time.

‘This investment confirms the City’s commitment to ensuring that we improve access to opportunities for those who need it most. Many people who are in wheelchairs, or those with impaired eyesight, cannot get to where they need to be and rely on the DAR service for assistance. The DAR service is unique in that eligible users who are not able to use conventional public transport are picked up at their doorstep and transported to their destination, be it a school, the workplace, or hospital. Users are required to book in advance, and the service operates Monday to Sunday from 05:00 until 22:00. The last time that the City replaced the DAR fleet was in 2015. I visited the depot yesterday afternoon to inspect the new vehicles, and I am confident that the users will benefit from advanced technology and a more comfortable ride,’ said Councillor Quintas.

The DAR service currently has 319 regular users, and 2 300 eligible users who are transported on an ad hoc-basis.

‘The DAR service will continue in its current form until 30 September 2023 when the City’s contract with the DAR operator, HG Travelling Services, comes to an end. In the meantime, we are working on a long-term business plan for a sustainable service that is more cost effective and able to assist more users. Unfortunately, the demand for this service is much greater than what we can provide at the moment, thus we have to investigate alternatives to improve access,’ said Councillor Quintas.

More details about the draft long-term business plan will be shared with the DAR users and the general public once ready.