In South Africa, Johannesburg has completed the first phase of a Bus Rapid Transit system that promises to help people move across the sprawling city more easily, efficiently and environmentally friendly.Cities worldwide are turning to Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems to combat congestion and improve public transport. South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg, is joining the trend with the construction of Rea Vaya (the name means “we are moving”), an ambitious BRT system that promises commuters high-quality, affordable and safe transport.
The first phase is now complete. The first central trunk route began service at the end of August 2009, and as of mid-October 2010 some 38,000 passengers were using the new system daily.
“With the investment, we wanted to offer accessible and affordable public transport for residents,” says Rehana Moosajee, mayoral committee member for transport in Johannesburg. “We also wanted to obtain lower emissions, decrease traffic congestion and connect different parts of the city – for example, Soweto – that as a result of apartheid have been excluded from the economic possibilities of the city.”
Rea Vaya - Johannesburg Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
The Rea Vaya BRT is expected to go a long way towards reducing air pollution in Johannesburg. If only 15 percent of car users in the city switch to using the system, carbon dioxide emissions will drop by more than 382,000 tonnes by the end of 2010. So far, with the new trunk route, passenger demand is up 30 percent.
“People in Johannesburg are really excited about the transport system, especially its dedicated bus lanes; we have received very positive feedback from the community as well as from visitors to the 2010 FIFA World Cup,” says Moosajee.
“Now we see many people leaving their private cars and minibus taxis in favour of Rea Vaya.”
The Rea Vaya system involves a dedicated middle lane for high-tech, high-capacity articulated buses along designated trunk routes, with enclosed bus stations situated at half-kilometre intervals to provide maximum comfort and safety.
Three reasons for Johannesburg’s BRT investment:
• Accessible and affordable public transport
• Lower emissions
• Connections to all parts of Johannesburg, to extend the economic possibilities of the city
• Very positive feedback from the community
• Time savings for commuters
• Many riders choose Rea Vaya over private cars and minibus taxis
Rea Vaya facts:
Rea Vaya is the commercial name for the new Bus Rapid Transit system being implemented by the Johannesburg Road Development Agency in conjunction with the Johannesburg Roads Agency. The long-term plan for Rea Vaya is a system comprising 330 km of BRT lanes around Greater Johannesburg.