The Rea Vaya bus rapid transport system.

The Rea Vaya bus rapid transport system.

All the relevant municipalities, including small authorities and metropolitan municipalities, have agreed to the establishment of the Gauteng Transport Commission, which would now officially become operational on March 31, Gauteng Roads and Transport MEC Dr Ismail Vadi said on Thursday.

Speaking at a Transport Forum meeting, in Johannesburg, Vadi said the commission, which would act as a “transitional phase” on the road to establishing a fully fledgedtransport authority, was established following consultation with various stakeholders.

“This took time, I thought it would take three months, but it took a year,” he said.

Included in the Transport Commission Agreement was the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport, the three metropolitan municipalities of Johannesburg,Tshwane and Ekurhuleni, as well as the seven local municipalities of Emfuleni, Lesedi, Midvaal, Randfontein, Westonaria, Merafong and Mogale.

Vadi explained that the commission would be governed by the MEC of Roads and Transport, along with the MMCs responsible for transport in each of the participating municipalities.

An advisory panel of transport specialists, which had “just about been established”, would further support the commission, Vadi stated.

The commission would focus on various aspects of thetransport system, one of which was integrated rail planning.

“Rail is going to be one of the major features of transport change and development in future,” Vadi said, adding that it was, however, difficult to devolve Gauteng’s rail system – which, in effect, meant handing it over from the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to local municipalities – as there were three dominant municipalities in Gauteng.

He stated that the commission would be able to assist in this regard as it included all the municipalities in its decision-making.

However, also speaking at the forum Prasa strategic asset management executive manager Dries van der Walt said it would not be handing over its planning function completely.

“Prasa supports the principle of a transport authority and the principle of a single transport authority for Gauteng, but this will not negate Prasa’s need to engage at a local-authority level,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the commission would also focus on the promotion, coordination and support of standardised intelligent transport systems, such as systems in support of integrated ticketing and fare management.

“There is a lot of movement of people between the different municipalities and, therefore, an integratedsystem is needed,” Vadi said.

Further, the commission would also promote and support the integration and alignment of bus rapidtransport (BRT) systems, while also supporting sustainable transport options, including nonmotorisedtransport.

Vadi said cycling should be more seriously considered as a mode of transport, pointing out that many South Africans already used this as their primary mode of transport.

He stated that moving away from cars as the primary mode of transport would become more and more necessary as the pressure on the road network was expected to  increase.

Gauteng’s 25-year Integrated Transport Master Plan leader and Gautrain Management Agency CEOJack van der Merwe said if current trends continued, the weighted peak hour road network speed would reduce from 48 km/h to below 10 km/h over the next 25 years, as peak-hour person trips were expected to grow from 2.2-million to 3.9-million.

“Major interventions and management of travel choices and demand will be required to avoid this scenario,” he said.

Vadi pointed out that travel demand management would be another of the commission’s focus areas, adding that options, such as businesses opening earlier or later would have to be considered.

During 2014, the commission would specifically focus on the roll-out and integration of BRT infrastructure, rail infrastructure development and integration, and the promotion of nonmotorisedtransport.

The commission was also suggesting common branding for all Gauteng’s transport systems to promote integration and had designed a “Gauteng on the move” logo and slogan for this purpose.