The construction of the first phase of the City of Cape Town’s integrated rapid- transit (IRT) system, which involves the establishment of a trunk route for the key link from the West Coast to Cape Town’s central business district, is expected to be completed by March next year, with construction rolling out on other key routes thereafter.

According to City of Cape Town media manager Kylie Hatton, the proposed IRT system is a package of measures designed to provide a more sustainable and balanced integrated transport system in Cape Town.

“This includes the priority rail plan, a bus rapid-transit (BRT) system, improvements to conventional bus and minibus operations, cycle ways and bicycle parking, pedestrian and urban space upgrades, metered taxi 
integration and park-and-ride facilities,” elaborates Hatton.

“The objective of the IRT system is to make all different modes of transport work as a seamless and integrated package of options for the travelling public.”

Speaking to Engineering News, lead consulting engineer for the first phase of the IRT system Andre Frieslaar explains that the IRT system will be rolled out in four phases over the next 10 to 15 years.

“Once it is fully rolled out, it will cover the entire city and surrounding suburbs,” says Frieslaar.

The first phase will include the airport–city link, the city–stadium link and the West Coast link, which will connect the outlying areas along the R27 to the city. The second phase will cover the areas south-east of the city, 
including Khayelisha and Mitchells Plain, as well as the southern suburbs. The third and fourth phases will cover the northern suburbs, including Durbanville and Belville, extending all the way to Helderberg.

Key infrastructure of Phase 1A is currently under construction.

Phase 1A essentially consists of main trunk routes that will facilitate the BRT system 
between the inner city and airport as well as the high-density residential areas along the West Coast.

The main focus of Phase 1A is the development of road infrastructure to facilitate the BRT system. This system has been chosen as the preferred transportation system as it is significantly cheaper to develop road infrastructure per kilometre than rail infrastructure, says Hatton.

Frieslaar explains that this route is being viewed by the City of Cape Town as a demonstration phase to test the system in action.

“The biggest construction areas for Phase 1 will take place along the R27, through a disused rail siding in Paarden Eiland, through the Culemborg Site and in the city centre along Hertzog Boulevard around the civic centre,” says Frieslaar.

He elaborates that, to date, seven major contracts, totalling R500-million plus professional fees, have already been awarded
for Phase 1A.

Essentially, Phase 1A has been broken up into different sections along the trunk route in order to give different contractors an 
opportunity to participate in the project.

Frieslaar states that the contractors that have already been commissioned to work on this project are Civils 2000, Martin & East, Baseline and Vuzela.

However, he adds that tenders still need to be advertised for the 
inner-city infrastructure projects.
It is expected that all the already awarded contracts will be completed by March next year and that the BRT system for Phase 1A will be operational by the second quarter of 2010.

Phase 1A is essentially being State-funded through capital made available by government to improve urban transportation ahead of the Fifa World Cup.

The implementation of the IRT system for the greater Cape Town metropolis was 
approved in August 2008.

According to Hatton, the decision to 
implement such a system was prompted by the recognition that the current fragmented and non-integrated public transport services are unsustainable.

“In Cape Town a large percentage of the population relies on public transport,” 
explains Hatton.

“While rail is the backbone of commuter transport in the Peninsula, with approximately 
550 000 passengers travelling every day by rail, bus and minibus taxi and it is essential for the City of Cape Town to provide safe, 
reliable and affordable transportation for these commuters.”

In addition, the system is being implemented 
in order for the City of Cape Town to meet its contractual obligation in terms of safe and 
reliable transport as a host city for the Fifa 2010 Soccer World Cup.

Hatton concludes that the IRT is one of the biggest projects ever to be undertaken by the City of Cape Town and it is anticipated 
to provide a legacy to the next generation of a world-class public transport system that will benefit all.