The Passenger Rail Agency of SA (PRASA) recently unveiled a R500-million plan in an effort to boost public transport usage in Johannesburg. This is part of the R1-billion the company will inject into major stations in a bid to improve passenger numbers, PRASA CEO Lucky Montana said. The plans involves the development of its property around Braamfontein station and link it up with the Johannesburg in an investment that will cost about. The initiative is touted to increase rail passenger numbers.
But there are serious doubts whether renovating train stations will attract passengers to trains without a feeder network of buses and taxis.
The 2006 national household travel survey, undertaken by the national department of transport, found that 52% of Johannesburg residents had no access to train services in their residential areas, compared to 5% of residents who reported that there was a no taxi service near their homes.
Itumeleng Motaung, a young HR professional who works in Braamfontein and lives on the East Rand, said she preferred to commute by taxis because trains were unreliable.
“Taxis do delay (at times), but they are better than trains. Flexibility is important if you are a punctual person,” she said.
She expressed doubt that she would use trains even if there was a connection between Park station and Braamfontein because trains were more often full and unsafe.
When President Jacob Zuma took a train on Thursday—to travel with ordinary commuters between the three metros of Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg—he found that they were overloaded with passengers. Most of them reportedly complained about the lack of reliability and punctuality of trains when they travel to work in the mornings.
The problem is not confined to Johannesburg alone.
A recent Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report on the integration of Gauteng as a city region found that residents who live further than places of employment were spent more time than those who lived closer to them.