All of Durban’s public transport projects, which are being funded by the national government to the tune of R1,2-billion, will be completed by the first quarter of 2010, Carlos Esteves, deputy head of the Road System Management for eThekwini, said ast week.

The city aims to promote public transport over private transport to make the city more accessible and to ease movement around the city centre for commuters and pedestrians.

Projects on target for 2010 include additional dedicated public transport lanes, an inner city distribution system, park and ride facilities using existing car parks and buses, upgrades to major intersections, a freeway management system, a closed-circuit television road monitoring system and a traffic call centre.

Durban’s King Shaka International Airport is expected to start operating in May 2010, just in time for the FIFA World Cup, and a shuttle service will be provided for passengers between the airport and a central transport hub in the city.

Julie-May Ellingson, head of Durban’s strategic projects unit and the 2010 programme, said the city hoped to extend the use of the shuttle service after the World Cup but that this would depend on its financial viability.

“The old Durban International Airport will be used for Lear Jets for the World Cup but no decision has yet been taken on how best to use the land after that,” she said.

Designated public transport lanes are key to the city’s public transport plans and the lane currently in use on the N3 out of town to Pietermaritzburg will be replicated on the Nkosi Albert Luthuli freeway (M4).

“This will free up traffic and speed up general mobility,” Ellingson said.

Park and ride facilities have already proved enormously successful for rugby games and Ellingson said the city would build on that. Partnerships have already been formed with shopping centres such as the Pavilion, in Westville, and Gateway, in Umhlanga, to use their parking facilities. Esteves said they hoped to continue the partnerships after the World Cup.

“There will also be park and ride stops around the city served by a dedicated shuttle service. Pedestrians will be able to walk from the transport hub to the stadium and fan park along pathways where more trees will be planted and better lighting and security provided,” he said.

A 10-m- to 15-m-wide promenade along the beachfront will give access to the fan park and to the stadium through an existing underpass, which will be widened and upgraded.

Esteves said security was also being beefed up at railway stations and that all rail corridors were being secured. “In addition, security control measures will be in place at all park and ride facilities,” he said. “CCTV will also be expanded to improve vigilance.”

Negotiations are under way with the taxi industry, which has threatened to make cities ungovernable, to make them part of the inner city redistribution system. “The idea is that they will go into areas that are not viable for large buses,” Ellingson said. “We are working with the industry to brand those taxis, which will have to conform to set standards and quality.”

To make taxis attractive to a broad spectrum of commuters, Ellingson said they would be marketed as part of the inner city distribution system and that they would be affordable, safe, be a consistent standard and be punctual.

The pilot People Mover System – a wheelchair-friendly service with large windows – travels along a designated route within the city and along the beachfront, servicing over 500 000 people a year. The service, which is monitored by cameras to make it safe, runs every 15 minutes between 06:00 and 23:00.

“It has proved very successful and more routes will be added in the build-up for 2010,” Ellingson said.

She said the existing People Mover service would be expanded into a broader public transport inner city system, with large sections of travel in dedicated busway lanes.

An order has already been placed for an extra 23 buses and the service will cover the city from the beachfront through to Warwick Junction and from Margaret Ncgadi, in the north, through to Moses Mabhida stadium.

Future phases will extend into Berea, Ridge, Riverside and Umbilo, with high-capacity links into Umlazi, Chatsworth, KwaMashu, Inanda, Clermont and Pinetown.

Work has begun on the flyover across Warwick Junction, which is a major congestion point for pedestrians and traffic.  Esteves said the support structures were in place and the deck would be cast in March.

The tender for the outbound flyover over Warwick junction was awarded to Group 5 earlier this month and work is due to start soon. Both viaducts will be completed in time for the soccer World Cup.

On match days, a security cordon will be thrown around the stadium and the shuttle will terminate south of the Suncoast casino, which will be linked to the stadium by a promenade.

However, Esteves said the main challenge to the city’s transport plans was not just to meet the requirements for match days, but to make sure that all the changes implemented would leave the city in a better position than it was before.

“The challenge is to build the public transport system from a very low base to a standard acceptable to international visitors,” he said.

PUBLICATION: Engineering News
AUTHOR: Margie Inggs
DATED: 26th February 2009