The City of Johannesburg was planning to start closing the dedicated lanes that were constructed for South Africa’s first bus rapid-transit (BRT) system, Rea Vaya, to public traffic, in preparation for the August 30 launch of the R1,6-billion Phase 1A.

“The dedicated lanes were constructed specifically for Rea Vaya to ensure a fast and effective public transport system for our commuters. During August, barriers will be erected across the BRT lanes at all intersections to sensitise the public not to use those lanes. There will also be road signs to indicate the bus only lanes,” explained Johannesburg mayoral committee member for transportation Rehana Moosajee.

She added that pointspeople would also be deployed at key intersections to alleviate any congestion.

Further, Moosajee warned road users to take note that illegally parked vehicles within the BRT corridors would be towed away and also that special traffic signals would be implemented for use by BRT buses at intersections.

“Traffic lights at the various intersections will display a red or green bus to regulate the BRT buses specifically. Road users should take care and respond to the normal mixed-lane traffic signals,” she noted.

The public would have to start complying with the lane closures as of August 14, when lanes at the intersections of Market street and Commissioner, Mooi street and Troye, and Smit and Wolmarans streets would be closed.

Lanes would also be closed in the Saratoga, Bertrams, Chris Hani, Klipspruitvalley, Sofasonke and Mooki roads.

Lane closures would follow in Mirriam Makeba road and the Soweto Highway on August 21.

The BRT system’s main routes will see buses run in dedicated lanes, stopping at specially designed stations, located roughly every 750 m along the way.

The starter service will run from Lakeview station, in Soweto, to Ellis Park station, also offering an inner-city complementary service. It will operate in two shifts, with limited off-peak services.

The full phase 1A will be implemented by January 2010, and will use expanded trunk and feeder routes, offering a three-shift operation with a three- to five-minute frequency during peak times, and 20 minutes during off-peak periods.