The Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit system in central Johannesburg has been canned for the rest of the year because of “poor patronage”, the city said on Monday. “The city of Johannesburg will temporarily withdraw the inner city circle routes of the Rea Vaya BRT system due to a number of challenges,” it said in a statement. “The inner city service has… not been well patronised, attracting at best 200 passengers per day.”

A probe into the cause of the problem revealed that commuters preferred to walk. It was a faster means of getting around due to the “severe traffic congestion and poor traffic control” in the inner city. There were not many ticket vendors and those who agreed to sell the tickets were wary of advertising the sales on their shop fronts.

The obstruction of bus stops by parked cars and poorly identified stops were cited as further reasons for the poor use of the service. “I have instructed my team to immediately begin with a redesign of the CBD service that would much better serve public demand and will also link the trunk services to high density business areas such as Braamfontein,” said Rehana Moosajee, the member of the mayoral committee on transport.

She said the city was in talks with the metro police to help clear the areas around bus stops, to improve policing of BRT lanes and to help to improve traffic congestion in general in the inner city. BRT in the inner city will stop running on Wednesday, with plans to roll out the service again in the first quarter of 2010.

The BRT system has been beset by problems since its introduction at the end of August, with taxi operators perceiving it as a threat to their businesses. Two buses were shot at in the first month of operations. A month later, Moosajee’s home was attacked and a security guard, specially assigned to her because of taxi industry threats over BRT, was wounded. This prompted Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele to warn that “no number of threats” would stop the BRT system from going ahead.