The City’s new, streamlined public transport system, Rea Vaya, is proving to have a positive impact on the City’s commuters. JOBURG residents and visitors alike can rest assured of a safe and comfortable journey if they choose to take a ride on a Rea Vaya bus.  Rea Vaya’s safety and security manager, Conel Mackay Rea Vaya, or the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, is proving to be a popular choice among city residents with over 16 000 passengers a day commuting to various destinations around the city using this mode of transport.

And all this is because Rea Vaya is reliant, safe and comfortable, according to the safety and security manager at BRT, Conel Mackay. “We pride ourselves in providing a safe and secure transport system. We have in excess of 200 CCTV cameras located around the city covering all Rea Vaya bus stations,” he said during a tour of the BRT system on Thursday, 5 November.

Mackay added that all buses and stations are fitted with CCTV cameras placed at strategic points to monitor all activity inside and outside the buses and stations. Each station is fitted with four cameras which are monitored by Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) personnel at a nerve centre located in the city centre. Here, all activity in the Rea Vaya stations is under scrutiny. Mackay said there are 20 specific cameras focussing on these stations in the inner city.

Nerve centre
“The nerve centre picks up any incidents and reports to either the JMPD, the SAPS or any of the city departments, depending on the case.” Mackay said the nerve centre has a “very impressive response” to any incident that happens around the Rea Vaya stations. “The average response time is between 5 and 15 minutes,” he said.

The buses are also fitted with CCTV cameras and drivers are in constant communication with the nerve centre. Initially, there were incidents of drivers speeding but this has been brought under control, according to Mackay. Taking a Rea Vaya bus “Rea Vaya buses can be quite fast because they are fitted with high-tech engines and run on low sulphur fuel. Drivers tended to speed because of the advanced technology of the buses but they have improved their driving safety standards tremendously.”

Besides the CCTV cameras, there is security personnel guarding all stations “24 hours a day and seven days a week”, said Mackay.  The City is also busy rolling out a public transport management system that will see each Rea Vaya station and bus being fitted with tracking devices. The devices will, among other things, relay information to the nerve centre about the location of all buses at a given time.

Since an attack on a Rea Vaya bus in September, there have been no major security incidents and things are running smoothly with residents supporting the system. “We are experiencing full buses even during off-peak hours,” said Mackay.

Media tour
When members of the media took a bus from Westgate Station to Thokoza Park at 11h20am the bus was packed full. With stops at Diepkloof, Orlando Stadium and Lake View stations, the bus arrived promptly at its final destination at Thokoza Park at 11h50am.

At each station, eager volunteers ushered passengers into the buses making sure the elderly were sitting comfortably. With each bus running at 20 minute intervals, there was hardly any waiting at the stations. At Thokoza Park, scores of cars were parked at a parking area. A guard at Thokoza Park Station said people leave their cars in the morning, board a Rea Vaya bus and then collect their cars after work in the evening.

“This ‘park and ride’ is not yet official and the City is not yet involved but residents have innovatively come up with ways to beat traffic and travel on the safe Rea Vaya buses. We need to come up with a way to make the park and ride official. “Our aim is to persuade people to park their cars and take Rea Vaya,” said Mackay.