Negotiations to ensure the inclusion of the taxi industry and the prevention of displacement were still under way.

Negotiations to ensure the inclusion of the taxi industry and the prevention of displacement were still under way.

The City of Tshwane, in Gauteng, started commissioning the inception phase of its bus rapid transit (BRT) system the ARe Yeng after the delivery of the first of the initial 30 buses on Tuesday.

The remaining 29 rigid 12-m-long inception buses would be phased in by May 31, as 48 taxi drivers, recruited from the 75 who applied for the bus driver positions, underwent vigorous training to handle the new public transport vehicles.

The buses for the BRT system’s inception services started coming off the production line on April 14, explained MMC for Transport George Matjila at the unveiling of the new bus at the A Re Yeng bus station, in Hatfield.

Volvo Southern Africa, in partnership with Marcopolo South Africa, was contracted to produce 131 buses – 85 rigid 12 m and 46 articulated 18 m buses – to the City of Tshwane by 2016.

The 12 m Volvo B9L low-floor bus chassis with Marcopolo Gran Viale bodies boasted clean-burning diesel-powered Euro V engines – the first of its kind to be manufactured by a Volvo/Marcopolo consortium in South Africa.

The chassis kits of the A Re Yeng buses were assembled at Volvo’s completely knocked-down plant in KwaZulu-Natal, after which they were road freighted to Marcopolo in Germiston, where the bodybuilding took place.

Bus operating company Tshwane Rapid Transit (TRT)  – an interim body representing affected bus and taxi operators – bought the buses while the City of Tshwane supplied the bus specifications to match the A Re Yeng service and stations.

The Tshwane Bus Services depot was being upgraded for use as an interim depot, where the buses would be housed and all maintenance, refuelling and administration would take place.

The A Re Yeng control centre, which controlled all communications linked to the A Re Yeng trunk line, would be established at the Tshwane Metropolitan Police Department headquarters.

The buses, which would be operated under a “high-tech” system and would rely “heavily” on an intelligence transport system, as well as provide free WiFi services, could accommodate 33 seated passengers and 35 standing passengers.

Meanwhile, negotiations to ensure the inclusion of the taxi industry and the prevention of displacement were still under way, with the recruitment and training of taxi drivers who operated the Menlyn, Elarduspark and Pretoria stations’ taxis, kicking off in May.

The taxi drivers, who were sourced from a database of operators expected to be impacted by the introduction of A Re Yeng in the inception phase, would complete their training by the end of June, explained A Re Yeng executive project manager Lungile Madlala.

“The training of the drivers will include an induction regarding the TRT system, working conditions of bus drivers, procedures and policies of the TRT, customer care, BRT operations and compliance with contractual obligations,” she said.

More drivers would be recruited and trained as the next phases of the BRT project progressed.

Speaking to the media at the launch, executive mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa said the delivery of the first A Re Yeng bus was the start of Tshwane’s long-term ambition of placing 85% of its population within 500 m of the BRT trunk or feeder corridor.

The seven-day-a-week bus service would operate from 06:00 until 20:25 from Monday to Friday, with trunk services every seven minutes in peak periods and every ten minutes in off-peak periods. On Saturdays, A Re Yeng would operate from 06:00 until 23:40, with ten-minute breaks between services during peak hours and 20-minute breaks during off-peak hours.

The Sunday services would operate from 06:00 to 20:00 with 30-minute intervals.