Mixed views on transport plan

Residents say Athlone needs a proper minibus taxi rank.

While the City has earmarked Athlone for the rollout of three MyCiTi bus routes, locals say what’s actually needed is a minibus taxi rank.

The City of Cape Town has identified Athlone as one of the priority areas for investment with a focus on upgrading the public transport systems by introducing three MyCiTi bus routes, as part of the City’s Transit-Orientated Development (TOD) project. The three routes identified for Athlone in the City’s Integrated Public Transport Network (IPTN) plan includes the T14 trunk route which will operate along Turfhall Road, via Pooke Road to Klipfontein Road and beyond to the east of Athlone; the T15 trunk route which will operate along Jan Smuts Drive and pass through Athlone on a north/south axis, and the D12 distributor route which will operate along Klipfontein Road on the east /west axis.

But residents feel that the City should, instead, invest in a proper minibus taxi rank which will help alleviate traffic congestion in the Athlone Central Business District (CBD).

Kewtown resident Vanessa Cottle, 56, said she supports the minibus taxi industry and the service it provides.

“There’s nothing wrong with it, it is convenient, and the taxi guards are helpful with the elderly people or if you have bags with groceries. I really commend them for always being helpful,” said Ms Cottle.

Taxi driver Mogamat George, 51, from Newfields, said the City should clamp down on the taxis driving though Athlone without the required permits.

“There are a lot of vans driving through our roads. They need to stop the vans coming through here because they don’t have permits to drive in Athlone.

“We need a terminus to operate from, especially now in the rain. The people get wet when they wait for a taxi, and that is how we lose commuters,” said Mr George.

Minibus commuter, Alfredene Boer, 27, supported the call for a proper taxi rank, saying it would make the CBD more organised and accessible to commuters.

“At the moment the taxis are standing all over (and) people don’t know where to go to get a taxi.

“There is so much traffic congestion in Athlone because Athlone is so small, and the taxis are standing in the road and not parked. So, a taxi rank will make it more organised.

“A better system is also needed; they need to know who the drivers are, and what their schedules are. They have one already, it just it needs to be more organised,” said Ms Boer.

Asked to elaborate on timelines for the project, Brett Herron, the City’s mayoral committee member for transport, said the changes would not be made immediatley, that there was no exact date as to when the changes would be made and that MyCiTi bus routes would only be developed where there were “densities and intensities of development that support the investment”.

“The first step for this project is to finalise the feasibility studies and ensure that the development constraints that are resultant from the decommissioned power station are fully resolved.

“Once this has been concluded, the conceptual planning will be concluded and the various investment packages rolled out. It is estimated that the first steps will take approximately 12 to 18 months to conclude. The intention is, however, to commence with some of the conceptual planning simultaneously.”

The aim of the undertaking, he said, was to ensure there were spaces for people to walk, cycle and use public transport, and minimise congestion so that access to public transport system becomes more viable.

When asked how this will affect the local minibus taxi drivers, Mr Herron said because the planning was still in the early stages, it was not yet necessary to engage with them. “Transport for Cape Town is continually engaging with the minibus-taxi associations and the Golden Arrow Bus Service on an array of issues. The current engagement relates to the imminent roll-out of Phase 2A of the MyCiTi service to the metro-south east. The other processes will commence as soon as the land-related feasibility issues have been resolved,” said Mr Herron.

Ashraf Allie, chaiperson of the Athlone and Cape Flats chapter of the Cape Chamber of Commerce, said the idea for a MyCiTi bus route in the Athlone CBD has been coming on for a long time.

“The community needs this intervention for the easy access into the area. It will take the Athlone CBD to new heights. It’s also exciting for the community, especially the poorer communities who have been hoping for this type of transport. It gives outsiders a chance to see the Athlone area and the rest of the Cape Flats. This will give them an opportunity to see how the people conduct themselves. This will lead to new relationships forming between communities and the cohesion of different communities to integrate with each other,” said Mr Allie.

* Athlone News contacted the Congress for the Democratic Taxi Association (CODETA) but they declined to comment.