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Since 2008, the City of Cape Town has been at the forefront of implementing national policy to provide sustainable public transport to its residents and visitors as set out in the Department of Transport’s Public Transport Strategy and Action Plan. This policy, released by the National Government in 2007, made provision for the development of integrated public transport networks and bus rapid transit services on busy corridors.
In 2010, in support of this goal, the City of Cape Town launched the first MyCiTi services as part of Phase 1A. Over the last five years, a growing network of MyCiTi services and routes has been rolled out in the West Coast, including Atlantis, Melkbosstrand, Table View and Dunoon, as well as in Century City, the Cape Town CBD and city bowl, and the Atlantic Seaboard and Hout Bay, including Hangberg and Imizamo Yethu.
In 2013 development began on the first routes for Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain which were launched in 2014. The first two routes are express routes to the Cape Town CBD via the N2, and two further routes are planned for launch soon.
The rapid roll-out of this considerable network has begun to reshape the city’s urban landscape and the expectations of residents for quality public transport. It has encouraged transit-oriented development and prompted the formation of new businesses shaped from minibus-taxi associations.
A great deal has been accomplished in five years, and we have learned many lessons. Now we are poised to take these to scale with Phase 2A of MyCiTi. This phase will be four times the size of Phase 1 and will take approximately five years to roll out.
The investment decisions we are making in public transport are increasingly informed by the evidence which shows that poor households, including those in the Phase 2A footprint, spend a much higher proportion of their monthly household income on transport than other households.
Transport for Cape Town (TCT) is committed to reducing the cost of the access priority for all households, particularly poor and working families who travel long distances to reach places of work, and spend between 40% and 70% of their household income on access. Our Integrated Public Transport Network (IPTN) Plan 2032, adopted unanimously by Council in 2014, aims to halve the cost of access in the coming decades and continue to drive it down, in line with international norms.
Phase 2 comprises two ambitious trunk services and a network of 34 feeder routes. Collectively, these routes will traverse a considerable proportion of the city, touching the lives of nearly half of the residents of Cape Town: 1,4 million people.
The development of a concept design for the Lansdowne-Wetton Corridor routes is now at an advanced stage, and is being presented to stakeholders and communities before detailed design work gets underway.
The characteristics of the proposed corridor are as follows:
New trunk routes
Trunk 1 will transport commuters from Mitchells Plain to Claremont along a 25 km route. Trunk 2 will transport commuters from Khayelitsha to Wynberg along a 35 km route.
The two trunk routes share an 8 km segment, providing several transfer opportunities. These routes were unanimously approved by Council on 24 June 2014 as part of the IPTN Plan 2032. The trunk routes will extend from Chris Hani railway station in Makhaza, Khayelitsha, along Govan Mbeki Road and Ottery Road to Wynberg, and from Kapteinsklip railway station in Mitchells Plain, again along Govan Mbeki Road and along Lansdowne Road to Claremont. These two trunk or main routes will traverse a number of suburbs including Philippi East, Ikwezi Park, Nonqubela, Khayelitsha CBD, Litha Park, Mandela Park, Harare, Kuyasa, Enkanini, Manenberg, Sweet Homes, Gugulethu, Brown’s Farm, Nyanga, Philippi, Crossroads, Wynberg, Plumstead, Royal Cape, Ottery East, Ottery, Turf Hall Estate, Lansdowne, Hanover Park, Lentegeur, Beacon Valley, Eastridge, Mitchells Plain CBD, Tafelsig, Claremont, Kenilworth, Rondebosch East, Kenwyn, Crawford, and Wetton.
The majority of these trunk routes will take the form of a dedicated busway, or what we have come to know as the red road in Cape Town. This will allow the buses to travel unimpeded by other traffic, giving priority to public transport in keeping with national, provincial and City policy.
On parts of the route, achieving this will require the use of the proclaimed road reserve.
In addition to the trunk routes, the conceptual design for Phase 2A will include 34 proposed feeder routes. The draft concept plan has estimated 25 closed stations to be built on the trunk routes as well as 45 pairs of open stops.
The draft concept plan for the feeder routes, which will criss-cross the catchment area for the trunk service, estimates 320 pairs of stops. This will take us closer to our goal of ensuring that 80% of residents are within 500 m of a public transport stop.
Beginning this journey together
It will take around five years to get the next phase of MyCiTi development operational, based on financial allocations from the National Government, with the aim of starting services in 2020. To achieve this will take hard work and some tough decisions will have to be made along the way, as is the case with such large projects that seek to radically transform the urban landscape and quality of life for so many.
There will be major roadworks all along the routes, which will be disruptive. Traffic will be diverted – permanently in some places – to accommodate the new trunk routes. Some private property will unfortunately have to be expropriated – but this will be kept to a minimum.
Where there are historical road schemes along the corridor, we have opted for these in order to avoid expropriation. In some cases there will be an impact – but change is inevitable if we are to make progress. We believe the end result will be worth it.
The first impacts have already been felt in South Road in Wynberg, where City-owned properties in the road reserve are being demolished. Much of the current public discussion of Phase 2A has centred on this small portion of the 52 km corridor in South Road, Wynberg – a historic road scheme and part of the City’s approved road network plan. We regret the impact that the decision to proceed with the South Road route has had on the tenants in these properties.
At the same time, none of these tenants have claimed, or can claim, that they were unaware that the houses they are renting are located in a historic road scheme, and that the City reserves the right to develop as such.
It goes without saying that tenants, no matter who they rent from, do not have permanent rights. The leases that the City signs with tenants living in properties located in road schemes point out that the premises may: ‘be required by the lessor within the period of the lease in connection with any scheme of town improvement or for any other public work’.
In more recent leases clauses read: ‘the lessee acknowledges that this property has been acquired to be demolished for road construction or widening purposes and that notice will be served on the lessee to terminate the lease and vacate the premises’.
These tenants therefore all acknowledged that in the future they would have to make way for this road. They were aware of it, and they agreed to it when they signed those leases. Road schemes are an important part of effective city planning.
As cities grow and change, infrastructure requirements need to be altered. Road schemes are developed to protect right of way for future use and accommodate growth in transport demand. They ensure that cities are not inflexible to the demands of economic and population growth.
Cape Town has 111 approved road schemes. Approximately 368 City-owned properties are located in these road schemes and are currently leased out. If we are no longer able to count on tenants in those properties to comply with their leases and vacate those properties when the time comes to build the respective roads, then our city is destined for failure since we will not be able to provide the critical infrastructure needed to provide mobility and access to a rapidly growing city.
With respect to South Road, the City has offered to find alternative accommodation for those lease-holders who are in good standing, and this offer remains on the table.
What Phase 2A means for Wynberg
The implementation of Phase 2A has significant implications for Wynberg, and they are overwhelmingly positive – as is the case for the other suburbs that will benefit from Phase 2A.
Wynberg is an increasingly busy and congested portion of the southern suburbs. This diverse, mixed-use area is part of the historic core of Cape Town. It is an area that has been shaped by both colonialism and Apartheid, and it showcases both the challenges and the opportunities that face us as a city.
We have an opportunity to reshape this area in a way that is appropriate and sensitive to its history, and to respond to the needs of the vibrant and diverse people, businesses, workers and residents that make up the Wynberg community. Wynberg lies alongside Claremont – an area that has benefited from a decade-long ongoing boom, fuelled by well-planned public and private development.
In contrast, significant parts of Wynberg are congested, car-clogged areas with poor pedestrian and cycle access and inadequate integration between different public transport modes. At the same time, Wynberg is a popular destination for both public transport users and those in private vehicles, owing to high volumes of people and a mix of land uses, combined with economic opportunities, government facilities, quality schools and range of retail and residential property.
Traffic and pedestrian volumes will continue to grow, whether we plan for them or not. We need a new vision and approach for this area in order to accommodate current use and the positive potential growth that the area should inspire and attract – one that will bring more people in and out of the area more efficiently. We need to grow areas like Wynberg appropriately as they are important engines of the local economy, which in turn create the jobs we need in our city and country. The proposed Phase 2A infrastructure provides a catalyst for a range of improvements that will impact Wynberg positively. Key to this is the provision of reliable, scheduled public transport in the form of MyCiTi services; good integration with rail; and pedestrian and cycle infrastructure that makes walking and cycling in the area safe and enjoyable. The aim would be to make the public transport experience for current users safer, more enjoyable, seamless and quicker.
The quality of the service should also provide an attractive alternative to private vehicle use. Being car competitive is becoming increasingly important if we are to ensure that Cape Town is not reduced to gridlock. Urban renewal of the historic streetscape along Main Road in order to realise the inherent value of the surrounding residential property is also a likely benefit of the urban upgrading that comes along with MyCiTi. It is in this context that the City has proposed the South Road link that will improve access from the metro south-east to Wynberg.
This is the best available option for achieving better linkages between the suburbs of the south-east and Wynberg and other parts of the city. It is also an important linkage between parts of the city that were in the past divided by the Group Areas Act under Apartheid. There are those who assume and allege that we have not properly applied our minds and that we should consider other routes to access the Wynberg CBD.
The key criteria for trunk routes include allowing for good operational speeds and ensuring that the route responds directly to the significant travel demands. To achieve good operational speeds (average 30 km/hour), trunk routes should operate on Class 2 roads which are characterised by wide intersection spacing and no direct erf access.
The vehicles must also travel in dedicated public transport lanes to improve the travel time over the private motor vehicle. The only Class 2 facility in this vicinity is the proposed South Road route. The routes being proposed are not higher order roads and they have numerous regular intersecting roads and private erf access which will negatively impact trunk operations.
The majority of commuters travelling to Wynberg are heading towards destinations on the western side of the railway line and the alignment via South Road and the proposed Brodie Road Couplet to the Wynberg public transport interchange allows passengers to be dropped closer to their destination. Furthermore, the South Road option provides greater geographical coverage and community reach within the corridor.
Should we change the course of the routes to run along Rosmead Avenue and Broad Road as is proposed by the South Road Families Association, up to 27 privately owned properties would have to be expropriated and demolished: one property in Brisbane Road, six properties in Brentwood Road, four properties in Ottery Road, seven properties in Ross Road and nine properties in Rosmead Avenue.
It makes no sense to expropriate these properties when the City already owns properties along the South Road road scheme. In addition, residents and businesses along Harpford Avenue, Clarence and Hayes Roads will be denied access to Rosmead Avenue and residents and businesses along Byrnes Avenue and Innes, Kildare and Carlow Roads will have limited access to Rosmead Avenue and Broad Road.
The Brodie Road Couplet
The City has also proposed the implementation of set of parallel one-way streets – using Brodie and Main Roads – in order to unclog and revitalise Main Road and make the pedestrian experience safer and more enjoyable.
This proposal was first developed in 2002, in response to the economic decline in Wynberg, and a couplet was confirmed as a key element in the regeneration of the Wynberg CBD. Instead of widening Main Road, which might provide for more lanes of traffic but would have mean that heritage buildings and areas would be lost, the couplet allows for a more efficient traffic flow by making part of Main Road a one-way – with Brodie Road accommodating traffic in the other direction.
The couplet proposal, which was approved by Council in December 2002, is a good solution to the mounting congestion that the area is experiencing and, together with public transport, it provides long-term solutions to a range of urban management problems that have arisen in the area which currently prevent it from reaching its full potential economic growth and liveability.
The proposed couplet will double the traffic capacity through Wynberg, enabling the MyCiTi service and other road users to move through this area at a more efficient speed during the peak traffic periods.
The couplet will also improve access to this area which has seen very little investment over the past two decades because of a lack of transport access and serious congestion. With more feet and movement in Wynberg, trade in the CBD will increase, as will new developments, job creation and much needed urban renewal.
The details of this proposal will be subject to a process of public engagement planned for this year, and we look forward to the opportunity to discuss this in detail with members of the public and stakeholders. We will then have more detailed proposals to share with the public. When this process was undertaken in Phase 1, it helped us to refine and improve our proposals and allow for a detailed engagement with interested residents and stakeholders.
In this respect, we have noted some of the specific concerns that have been voiced about the couplet proposal, and we will continue to engage on these issues. We also believe that we can achieve a meeting of minds, given the concerns that we all share for achieving a better urban environment in this important part of Cape Town.
In the coming months and years, the City will be talking regularly to communities about the various stages of the Phase 2A project as well the specifics of each area where efficient, safe and affordable public transport matters most.
From 22 May to the end of June 2015, a series of 29 public open days will be held to inform residents along the proposed routes about the expansion of MyCiTi services in the Lansdowne-Wetton Corridor. We will continue to engage with those directly affected in one way or another.
Many residents are excited about this initiative that moves towards an integrated transport system for Cape Town. Not everyone will be happy all of the time, but as a City we believe that we can make progress possible together.