Government will acquire 1 422 buses for the 2010 soccer World Cup, says Department of Transport (DoT) deputy director-general for public transport Kuben Pillay.

This is a substantial number as South Africa’s entire new bus market is about 1 200 vehicles a year.

Following the global sports event, the plan is for these buses to eventually be used by Autopax for its long-distance bus service, and by public transport systems countrywide.

Autopax is a wholly owned subsidiary of parastatal Transnet. The company operates the Translux and City-to-City services.

Of the 1 422 buses, it is envisaged that 210 luxury coaches will be used by the World Cup Local Organising Committee, 286 semi-luxury coaches and 189 intercity coaches by Match, with 258 intercity coaches and 479 commuter buses to be used for general spectator demands.

Match is the company appointed to provide ticketing, accommodation and event information technology services to Fifa for the Fifa Confederations Cup South Africa 2009 and the 2010 soccer World Cup.

The number of buses to be acquired includes a spare fleet of 5%, to ensure operational reliability.

The need for the new buses sprung from the inability of the local industry to meet the demand envisaged for the event.

Pillay says the DoT met with the long-distance bus industry, represented by the Southern Africa Bus Operators Association (Saboa), in October 2007, when Saboa indicated that the industry would only be able to commit 100 vehicles from its fleet of 800 for the World Cup event.

In February 2008, Saboa indicated that its long-distance membership had since indicated that these 100 vehicles were no longer available in their entirety.

However, notes Pillay, in the process of bidding for the 2010 World Cup, and in the subsequent guarantees signed by the Minister of Transport, South Africa has committed itself to the mobility of the general public, the spectator base and the Fifa community by providing high-quality and high-efficiency transport services.

“This commitment is undermined by the reversal of the Saboa offer for the 100 coaches. As a result, the department concluded that the safest way forward was for it to purchase the full vehicle complement for 2010.”

Pillay says technical evaluation for the tender to acquire the new vehicles has been completed, but that there is no cost estimation available yet.

“All tender processes are subject to stringent black economic-empowerment requirements,” he adds.

PUBLICATION: Engineering News
AUTHOR: Irma Venter
DATED: 17th October 2008