Following a tense first week of operations owing to taxi violence and some operational glitches, such as station doors not opening as they should, passenger numbers for the starter service of Johannesburg’s Rea Vaya bus rapid transit (BRT) system seems to have settled at around 8 000 passengers a day, using 40 specially designed buses.

City of Johannesburg member of the mayoral committee for transportation Rehana Moosajee says Rea Vaya carried 16 800 passengers on 171 trips, covering 9 405 km on Monday – its first day of full operations.

However, this was an abnormally high figure, as this day also saw a city-wide taxi strike, with commuters then flocking to the BRT system as an alternative means of transport.

“The second day saw Rea Vaya transporting 7 700 passengers over 8 400 km on 153 trips,” says Moosajee.

The rest of the week continued this trend, at around 8 000 passengers a day.

The City of Johannesburg is now turning its attention to fine-tuning Rea Vaya’s services, explains Moosajee.

“We are assessing the public feedback we’ve received through the call centre and web-site, as well as from the Rea Vaya ambassadors and staff on the ground to determine which areas we should focus on to perfect our service to commuters.

“We urge the public to keep on providing feedback regarding Rea Vaya and areas where we can improve.”

The 25-km starter service runs from Lakeview station, in Soweto, to Ellis Park station, also offering an inner-city complementary service. It operates in two shifts, with limited off-peak services.

Tickets cost between R3 and R8 a trip.

The full phase 1A, to be implemented by January 2010, will use expanded trunk and feeder routes, and three-shift operations.