New transport system hits the road in the Bay
31 May 2010
The first phase of an ambitious new public transport system for Nelson Mandela Bay was launched yesterday with the opening of bus dedicated lanes from Govan Mbeki Avenue to Kempston Road.
The launch of the integrated public transport system (IPTS), a prerequisite for the World Cup, was held at the Mfanasekhaya Gqobose (former Eric Tindale) building near the Russell Road start of the bus and taxi lane system.
It was attended by Nelson Mandela Bay Deputy Mayor Nancy Sihlwayi, acting Municipal Manager Elias Ntoba and Eastern Cape Transport, Safety and Liaison MEC Ghishma Barry, among other dignitaries.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Taxi Forum's Albert Camphor and municipal acting Public Transport Officer Keith Mitchell also attended the occasion.
Mitchell, who gave a technical presentation on the IPTS lanes, said the bus routes launched yesterday stretched from Govan Mbeki Avenue to Kempston Road.
He said the Stanford Road - Cleary Park route would be launched "shortly after the world cup", adding "proper bus stations" would also be built between the lanes after the tournament ended in mid-July.
Barry said the provincial administration had played "a big role" in making sure an agreement was reached on the IPTS between the municipality and the taxi industry.
A memorandum of understanding between the two parties, signed in front of the city hall two weeks ago, culminated in the handing over of 25 buses to the taxi industry.
"This agreement does not exist anywhere else in the country at this point in time. Because regional taxi boss Melekile Hani was dead, it did not mean we are going to abandon the taxi industry," said Barry.
The MEC urged the public to support the IPTS as it would benefit the province's tourism industry, adding: "the roads that have not yet been completed are not of major importance for the world cup".
Barry also highlighted the long-term benefits of the IPTS, which included:
* sustainable and frequent peak and off-peak period public transport
* improved travelling times for all users
* reduction in pollution and a world class public transport system "which Nelson Mandela Bay can be proud of".
Camphor said it had always been his dream to see the industry "formalised" when he entered it about 20 years ago. But when the " Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system" was introduced, "we were all up in arms with it because we thought: 'now this is the end of us'."
He thanked the municipality for including taxi operators in the IPTS, because the public transport system "is nothing without us".
"Had the industry not been included, things would not have worked out the way they did," Camphor added.
Municipal spokesman Luncedo Njezula, who dubbed the launch an "auspicious occasion", said: "We are building a world (class) city here; (PE) is a revolutionary city".
Source: Department of Transport, Eastern Cape Provincial Government
Issued by: Eastern Cape Transport
31 May 2010
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