The Joburg bus rapid transit system (Rea Vaya) has given authorities more headaches than milestones since its launch, says Vaughn Mostert, a lecturer at the University of Johannesburg’s transport department
The launch of Rea Vaya two years ago, with its first route running from Soweto to Ellis Park, was marred by violence and resistance by taxi owners.
But the ongoing bus drivers’ strike over wages, which has stranded more than 40 000 passengers every day since August 1, has disrupted celebrations planned to mark the second year of service to commuters.
The strike is the eighth such action to affect commuters since Rea Vaya was introduced.
“So far the BRT has been successful only in transferring passengers from 550 taxis,” said Mostert. “There are still 11 000 taxis to go but at this rate … the whole system is going to turn into a massive flop.”
Mostert said the BRT was expected to underperform because of strikes and other labour disputes unless it was put under one administration.
“This issue has got to be accelerated to higher level of government now to ensure commuters are getting the service they require regularly,” he added… If this is the kind of service that the commuting public is going to get then they will not be getting value for their money.”
Rea Vaya has about a million commuters a month, with some 143 buses run by PioTrans, a bus operating company owned by nine taxi associations that employ over 300 former taxi drivers.
Both PioTrans and the SA Municipal Workers’ Union have failed to reach agreement over wages and benefits – prolonging the strike that has already lasted for over a month.
Yesterday, PioTrans and Samwu were locked in a private meeting as a last ditch effirt to end the strike.
Rehana Moosajee, Joburg’s mayoral member of the committee on transport said the city would decide what to do next.
This week, Roads and Transport MEC, Ismail Vadi, and the MEC for Community Safety, Nonhlanhla Mazibuko expressed concern at the prolonged disruption of transport.