Commuters travelling on the soon-to-be-launched Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system will be allowed a day of free rides when the buses start operating, the City of Johannesburg said on Wednesday.

The free rides are one-off celebratory incentives for August 30 only, mayor Amos Masondo said in a statement.

“I am happy to announce that on August 30 we will be celebrating the first day of BRT operations. The residents and citizens of Johannesburg are invited to share this historic moment by taking a ride on Rea Vaya free of charge,” said Masondo.

The first phase of the new transporting system — scheduled to run from Regina Mundi church in Soweto to Ellis Park — is expected to start running from August 30.

A summit and a public meeting are planned for this weekend in Nasrec and Thokoza Park in Soweto to inform the public about BRT.

The summit will offer information about the new system.

On Sunday, a fun day will be held in Thokoza Park in Rockville, Soweto, to educate commuters and residents along the Rea Vaya routes about how the system will work.

Masondo said the city would close off lanes dedicated to the buses in preparation for the “big day”, and Johannesburg metro police would monitor compliance.

“Only the BRT buses will be allowed to use those lanes. We appeal to the public to cooperate with us in this regard. Let’s get used to the reduction of road space and start using public transport,” he said.

Processes were under way to recruit staff for the BRT business unit and a project manager would be appointed by September 1, said Masondo. — Sapa