An evaluation of Rea Vaya and Gautrain, its potentials and impacts on spatial and transportation planning in the City of Johannesburg
Adegbaju, Adedayo Babajide
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The unique urban contexts that emanated from the apartheid history of South Africa informed the transport landscape of the City of Johannesburg. Apartheid‘s divisive spatial planning and land use management policies promoted sprawling and separated labour from work. This was further exacerbated by poor funding of public transport and road designs that encouraged the use of private cars. The democratization of the country in 1994 was the beginning of a new phase in the history of the city. A new approach to policy formulations that entails the provision of public transport as one of the tools to end years of marginalization and inequalities was adopted by the national government. It soon became a policy direction that reflects in planning decisions of all spheres of government. The Rea Vaya BRT and the Gautrain were respectively introduced by the municipal and provincial governments to demonstrate governments‘ commitments to the new policy direction. While the Gautrain was implemented to facilitate elite movement within Gauteng and to crowd investments and economic growths around station nodes; the BRT was provided for marginalized commuters in Soweto, to provide a sustainable alternative to the dominant minibus taxi. Although the two modes (Rea Vaya and Gautrain) have endured almost a decade filled with public sentiments and other issues, this research concludes that most of the challenges are associated with the country‘s historical context and the age of these transport systems. The Gautrain has demonstrated that viable alternatives to the private car can be provided, with its satisfactory feedbacks from users; and some of its station nodes (Sandton, Rosebank and Pretoria) have showed promises of transit-oriented development, one of the project‘s key objectives. The other stations have been unable to stimulate growth due to reasons like non-implementation of their Urban Design Frameworks and lack of public sector investment required to attract private investors. The Rea Vaya, in its third phase of implementation, has been extended further north to Sandton in spite of both its inability to induce modal change and its low ridership figures. The research identifies factors like low peak to base ratio, pricing and the city‘s disjointed urban fabric as some of the reasons for its below average performance. By drawing from the highlights and limitations, the study recommends that public transport provision should be institutionally integrated across and within spheres of government. Similarly, harmonization of the funding structure, better understanding of users‘ needs and travel patterns, underlined with continuity of policy direction and objectives will equally help to achieve optimum outputs.