The Gautrain Project has been a catalyst in creating a new standard for the public transport sector, changing the face of transport in Gauteng and forcing public transport operators to think more innovatively in providing transport solutions, says Intelligent Transport Solutions South Africa (ITS South Africa) CEO Paul Vorster.

The association has awarded Gautrain project leader and CEO, Jack van der Merwe, with a certificate of recognition for the contribution and impact of the project on the public transport landscape in South Africa.

“Gautrain has been successful in changing the face of transport in Gauteng, so we gave the certificate of recognition to Jack van der Merwe for the role that the project has had in highlighting the significance of public transport,” comments Vorster.

He lauds the Gautrain project for its application of best practice transport systems that is in keeping with international standards of transportation and applying intelligent transport solutions.

“We are recognising the Gautrain as a project of national significance that is changing the face of transport. Here is an example of what is possible and what can be done and now we can tell other people how using best practice can make public transport an attractive option. The Gautrain Project will provide a world class transport service, that is not only current in its technological use, but it ensures that best practice systems are adopted,” says Vorster.

While the Gautrain Project is set to dissipate the growing congestion on the major freeways in Gauteng, Vorster believes that encouraging the use of other forms of public transport and developing these transport systems is the only way to promote public transport and so manage traffic congestion on the highways in Gauteng.

Vorster says that the new bus systems that the city of Tshwane and the city of Johannesburg are in the process of implementing, termed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), will modernise and improve existing transport system in the metropolis.

“Many things have happened since the launch of the Gautrain project. The city of Johannesburg and Tshwane are introducing a BRT system, which is a modem bus transport that will transport people in the city. The BRT systems and Gautrain’s bus link will be complementary to each other,” says Vorster.

These developments in the transport sector will create a more balanced transport system to enable the public to decide on the best mode of transport to use on any given day, says Vorster.

“It should become a question of ‘which mode of transport will suit me best today’. We have to make transport viable, safe and reliable,” he says.

Vorster says that the common purpose and aim of ITS South Africa is to make transport more efficient and safe for use by the general public through the application of new transport technology and intelligent systems.

The Gautrain project is set to apply best practice even in the dissemination of information with regard to the times and routes of the railway system.

This lack of information has been an inefficient part of existing transport systems in the local transport industry, which has resulted in the reluctant use of public transport, says Vorster.

“We can expand the concept of traveller information through the use of a dedicated website. Where ITS play a role is in providing the public with information on whether buses are on time as is specified on a pre set timetable. We use Automated Vehicle Location (AVL) global positioning system for real time monitoring of bus routes. This technology is being employed in Europe and we expect that similar systems will be integrated in various public transport systems,” he explains.

Vorster says that public transport will be more accessible with the use of attractive transport solutions that will enhance safety through the use of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) surveillance cameras. He says that the Gautrain project has embraced numerous ITS elements that include the use of CCTV surveillance cameras. “A lot of the intelligent solutions that we are promoting will be implemented as part of Gautrain. An example of this is the installation of CCTV surveillance cameras that can be used to promote safety on the trains. Gautrain will have a network of buses to feed and collect commuters and this fleet will be managed using AVL technology. This will provide transport information and deployed as part of the Gautrain transport system,” explains Vorster.

He says that the use of an electronic ticketing system or e ticketing in the Gautrain project is welcomed by ITS and is another area of best practise used in the rail link project.

“The Gautrain rapid rail link is not the be all and end all solution to the local transport industry, but the problem it has been tasked to solve will be accomplished,” concludes Vorster.