The city of Cape Town plans to have a municipal public transport authority up and running by the end of 2009 to manage and co-ordinate the provision of rail, bus and minibus taxi services in the city.

The news follows its spat in 2007 with the provincial government, which demanded the city hand over all public transport functions to provincial authorities.

Given that the cost of a restructured public transport service would run to about R5-billion, the city council opted for the formation of a municipal entity, rather than an internal unit within the city’s existing structures.

Studies indicated that establishing such an authority internally would require a more than doubling of the city’s current staff complement.

The council operation of services would also be less commercially viable than that of private operators.

The estimated cost of an internal structure would be about R16-million.

With the exception of the ANC, the majority in the council agreed to establish a municipal entity, while the city maintains effective control over the entity in terms of a service delivery agreement.

In 2007 the city withdrew from talks with the province over a proposal that the provincial government take over the city’s public transport responsibilities, through a public transport operating entity.

Mayor Helen Zille said that by law, the management of public transport within its boundaries was the city’s responsibility and these functions could not be delegated to another sphere of government.

Mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater, Elizabeth Thompson, said the city had to better organise public transport in the city as trains were overcrowded, rail stock needed to be replaced and taxi commuters were subject to lawless behaviour.