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Improving Gauteng public transport service delivery in the COVID-19 context

Publication Date: 
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The CSIR is collaborating and contributing to the response strategy of the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport (GDRT) in the development of COVID-19 response plans as part of a long-term programme to improve public transport service delivery in the province.  

Contact Person

Dr Mathetha Mokonyama

mmokonyama@csir.co.za

The CSIR is collaborating and contributing to the response strategy of the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport (GDRT) in the development of COVID-19 response plans as part of a long-term programme to improve public transport service delivery in the province.  

The CSIR has previously mapped minibus taxi routes and subsidised bus routes in Gauteng on behalf of the GDRT as part of the government’s broader public transport policy reform initiatives. The GDRT sought the CSIR’s expertise to build on the existing knowledge base in an effort to respond to and help contain the pandemic. CSIR researchers conducted an investigation to understand the varying utilisation of taxi ranks operated by associations in Gauteng. Some of the critical activities included a survey of all minibus taxi facilities in Gauteng; a spatial visualisation and analysis of public transport hotspots; the incorporation of the minibus taxi facilities into the Gauteng Minibus Taxi Database; and developing a cost-effective method to continuously update the Taxi Database.

The CSIR’s Shaun Mhlanga says that a comprehensive understanding of minibus taxi services and operations will aid the progress of tailored developmental solutions for the industry and its commuters in Gauteng. This includes the development of capital and operational subsidy policies for both minibus taxi facilities and vehicles, associated support infrastructure to enhance operations and sustainable mobility around facilities, and regulation to prioritise minibus operations on the transport network. “We developed a data collection template was developed to aid the collection of specific operational attributes of each minibus taxi facility or rank that is operated by minibus taxi associations registered in Gauteng,” he says.  

“Ultimately, the GDRT wants to provide the infrastructure necessary to support safe, effective and efficient minibus taxi operations in Gauteng. This will contribute towards the transformation and modernisation of the minibus taxi industry to also include sanitisation, screening and testing capability for viruses and pandemics,” says Mhlanga.

The GDRT also required an in-depth analysis of pre-identified public transport hotspots in Gauteng to assist in combating the pandemic by identifying vulnerable commuters and areas of mobility. 

This was done using spatial data relating to the dynamics of passenger travel patterns, public transport networks and modes of public transport. The datasets were generated from the various surveys conducted on behalf of the department. The information is being used to geographically prioritise areas of intervention based on trip densities and route volumes. “We have also made inputs regarding possible approaches of compensating minibus taxi operators, given the limitation on the number of passengers they can carry under lockdown regulations, which is informed by our understanding of cost drivers in the minibus taxi industry,” says CSIR Transport Systems and Operations Manager, Dr Mathetha Mokonyama.

To assist with initiatives on contact tracing, the CSIR is supporting the department by creating a register of minibus taxi operators, drivers and passengers, beginning with those in high-risk COVID-19 areas. “We are also providing on-going contracted support to the department by surveying minibus taxi ranks in the province in an effort to determine their locations more accurately, as well as the operational status of amenities in taxi ranks, such as water supply and ablution facilities,” says Mokonyama. This will assist in providing a basic assessment of readiness of facilities to support hygiene and safety.

The CSIR is the research and development implementation agent of the GDRT in terms of a memorandum of understanding. A team comprising CSIR transport engineers, economists, data analyst, field specialist, statisticians contribute to work undertaken.

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