THE South African Bus Operators Association (Saboa) said on Friday that it was concerned that SA would not have enough buses to maintain the normal local operations and to cope with the increased demand for public transport during the 2010 Soccer World Cup tournament.

Saboa executive manager Eric Cornelius said that SA would need about an extra 500 luxury buses to carry the 350000 tourists and soccer fans expected to visit SA during the four-week soccer event.

“To cope with the expected passenger transport demand more vehicles would be needed to take up the excess demand and maintain local operations.”

He said that since most of the coaches would have to be imported it was advisable that bus operators and municipalities place their orders now to avoid disappointment.

“Buses are not like cars that you get off the shelf. The order for buses ought to have been placed by now so as to give bus manufacturers time to build the coaches in time and ship (them) to SA.”

But the transport department said SA had enough buses to carry existing and new passenger volumes. The department’s spokesman Collen Msibi said: “There are 500 luxury coaches in SA to transport people during 2010. About 15000 long distance and commuter buses are ready for the transportation of people for this event. Based on these figures SA has the capacity to handle 2010 World Cup fans.”

The department said the tournament’s busiest days would require 60 trains, 600 buses and 10000 minibuses.

Msibi said the government could still play a role in the acquisition of more than 500 luxury buses if they were required.

“If the government comes in (in) the acquisition process it will have to subsidise 100% of the buses needed,” Msibi said.

Saboa, which represents 650 bus operators, said SA had a total fleet of 15000 registered commercial buses. More than 12000 of these buses belonged to Saboa members.

Ironically, Saboa, has cautioned against the purchase of between 1000-1500 new buses that some players in the tourism sector had proposed to the government and the local organising committee of 2010 World Cup.

The organisation said that adding more than 500 luxury buses in winter, which was “traditionally the slack tourism period” in SA, would create “an oversupply of coaches”. The World Cup will be held in winter.

Saboa said the bus industry normally used 800 luxury coaches during winter. “If more luxury coaches were to be added to this tally it would create an oversupply of coaches,” it said.

PUBLICATION: Business Day
AUTHOR: Khulu Phasiwe
DATED: 16th October 2007