Eleven weeks after it began, Johannesburg’s Rea Vaya bus rapid transit (BRT) service is going through a turbulent time. Another pro-Rea Vaya taxi driver was shot at yesterday, the second such attack in two weeks. The city also announced the closure of its poorly designed inner-city feeder routes. The incidents clearly show the extra and significant costs in creating in SA a public transport service that also brings the unruly taxi industry into the realm of regular, conventional business.

Elphus Malao, a member of the taxi team negotiating with the city to take over Rea Vaya next year, survived when two bullets were shot through his driver’s window yesterday afternoon. “I’m very bitter,” he said. “You take a business decision, and then you become susceptible to these kinds of attacks.” The attack on Malao came two weeks after gunmen fired on Vananda Khumalo, another pro Rea Vaya operator. He survived, but his fiancée was killed. Taxi associations are split. Some operators want to join Rea Vaya, but face harassment and intimidation from fellow members do not want to do so.

“This latest attack would appear to confirm concerns that there is an organised conspiracy from some quarters,” Deputy Transport Minister Jeremy Cronin said last night. “We obviously condemn this resort to violence very strongly.” South African Police Service spokesman Supt Lungelo Dlamini said he had no information on the attacks or a campaign against pro Rea Vaya taxi men. The city said yesterday it would close the circular feeder routes meant to carry passengers to the trunk line connecting Ellis Park with Soweto.

This remains, but the feeder buses have been highly problematic. Buses got stuck in traffic, tickets were hard to buy and passengers found it quicker to walk. Passengers never topped 200 a day.