The City of Johannesburg may later this month issue a request for a tender worth up to R500 million for an e-ticketing solution for its Rea Vaya bus rapid transit (BRT) system.

City BRT project manager Bob Stanway says the first phase of the project, that will completely revamp public transport in the city over the next two decades, will cost R2.5 billion.

About half a billion of that will be for an e-ticketing solution that will also integrate the BRT with the provincial government’s R35 billion Gautrain rapid rail project.

Stanway says the combined tender, to supply the equipment and operate the system, follows a call for “expressions of interest” in January that elicited a “good response”.

Phase 1A of the BRT is to be in place by May next year to support the Confederations Cup. Phase 1B is to be complete by the next May, in time for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. The full first phase will be completed by 2013 and the whole system will be fully deployed beyond 2020.

The BRT and Gautrain will physically integrate at Park, Rosebank and Sandton stations, where facilities will be co-located. The two systems will also use an interoperable ticketing system. The systems will, however, be discreet and based on bank-issued smart cards.

“As far as is humanly possible, as far as commuters are concerned, it will be reasonably seamless, but because we have different back offices, as well as different distribution of the costs and fares, it will not be quite as seamless behind the scenes,” Stanway says.

The first phase of the BRT will wind along 122km of city road and will see the construction of 150 enclosed stations, as well as a control centre in Martindale, in the centre-west of the city. Stanway says the buses will run in exclusive dedicated lanes and the stations will be positioned about half a kilometre apart.

Buses will run every three minutes in peak times and every 10 minutes in off-peak times and it will be possible to catch a bus from 5am to midnight.

Other than the fare collection and verification system at each station, the Johannesburg Roads Agency will also implement a passenger information system and a global positioning-based automatic vehicle location system to keep track of the buses, which will be done from the Martindale control centre.