On May 9, 2011 MyCiTi welcomed the people of Table View on board Cape Town’s first bus rapid transit service.
The service was a first for Cape Town with its dedicated lanes for buses, well designed stations, secure cycle and pedestrian paths and a service promise of reliability, affordability and safety.
The success of MyCiTi was immediate, with thousands of people switching from their private vehicles and other transport modes to the striking red, white and blue buses.
By Transport Month in October of that year, I welcomed MyCiTi’s millionth passenger, William Makola, as he stepped off the bus after travelling from Parklands to the city centre.
The now-familiar buses, in their seventh year of operation, continue to transport thousands of people between Table View and their destinations each day.
The MyCiTi service currently consists of 40 routes, 42 stations and 416 pairs of bus stops; 558 bus drivers in 255 peak buses; transporting an average of 66 775 passengers on a weekday.
For the people of Table View, the service provided a welcome relief from the bumper-to-bumper traffic common on the R27 into Cape Town, with no other public transport service available. This made Table View an obvious choice for piloting the first service, together with the willingness of the minibus taxi industry in the area to participate.
In fact, today the MyCiTi routes from Table View southwards and back via the R27 and Koeberg Road are the most popular in Cape Town, with about 17 600 passenger journeys on an average week day.
Developed in the run-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Cape Town had important transport obligations that it had to meet as one of South Africa’s host cities for this mega-event. The national government and municipalities agreed that the World Cup provided an opportunity to leave a legacy for South Africans through new infrastructure that would contribute to improved quality of life and economic growth.
By using the bus, rather than a private car, commuters do their bit to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming, and the extreme weather events that are increasingly common across the globe.
In Cape Town, where economic growth exceeds other parts of the country, there is a growing need for people to get around in the busy peak period. Growing congestion on our roads makes MyCiTi a more efficient travel option while freeing up road space.
In the coming months, MyCiTi users can look forward to more improvements as this still-young system continues to evolve.
A pilot to bring free wi-fi to buses is under way, providing users with 50MB of data daily. Cape Town’s first electric buses will also soon join the MyCiTi fleet.
These buses are being assembled in Cape Town, creating jobs and opportunities, while helping to reduce air pollution.
MyCiTi’s cashless fare system is also a first.
As Cape Town grows, sustainable lifestyles will be increasingly important for households and communities as a whole. Getting around on public and shared transport, by bike or on foot, is a cleaner and greener option. Commuter support is also essential for MyCiTi to continue to grow and meet the needs of more Capetonians.
If you haven’t already, make MyCiTi part of your life this Transport Month.
* Brett Herron is the City’s mayoral committee member for transport and urban development.