The City of Cape Town’s incredible plan to make mini-bus taxis better than Uber

 ·9 Sep 2017

The City of Cape Town has released its Integrated Public Transport Network (IPTN) plan, detailing how it plans to deal with the city’s massive traffic issues.

The plan proposes significant involvement of the minibus-taxi industry in future MyCiTi service roll-outs.  It also plans to use technologies such as e-hailing and mobile applications which will enable minibus-taxis to provide demand-responsive services.

“We foresee that by formalising and modernising the minibus-taxi industry, the operators will become our partners in transforming the method and ease of commuting in Cape Town,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development, councillor Brett Herron.

“As such, the IPTN Business Plan states that minibus-taxis will provide on-demand services in future MyCiTi service roll-outs and transport commuters to stations and stops from where commuters can transfer to a MyCiTi trunk route which operates on dedicated right-of-way red roads,” he said.

According to Herron, it had become clear during the first phase of the MyCiTi roll-out, that it would not be financial sustainable to remove taxis from public routes.

This is because of Cape Town’s spatial form which is characterised by low densities and urban sprawl, and the expected decline in grants from the National Government given the low-growth economic outlook, he said.

“It also makes sense to rather use minibus-taxis to provide feeder services as they are more flexible and can easily adapt to changes in commuter demand. The objective of what we call the hybrid-model is to use the strengths of the minibus-taxi industry to deliver an improved MyCiTi service and at a cost that is affordable to the City and commuters, ” said Herron.

How it will work

Like Uber, Cape Town’s public transport will be fully-accessible via mobile.

This will include:

  • the development of mobile device applications to enable a user to see a route, mode and price options in real time,
  • including details of transfers between modes and total trip time options, and
  • the ability to allow users to track, in real time, the vehicle they need to catch so that they can get to the required station or stop in time.

“Going forward, the city will also investigate how innovative information technologies can assist us in creating a convenient, secure, and cost-effective fare system that facilitates integration across all of the modes, including parts of the minibus-taxi industry. In this sense, it is not far-fetched to imagine that Capetonians could be using their mobile phones to pay for a ride on the MyCiTi service, Metrorail, a minibus-taxi or other bus services in future,” said Herron.

Herron said that the new system would also directly benefit the taxi industry who will now be able to actively source customers, instead of waiting at taxi ranks or picking up hailing customers from the side of the road.

“Through e-hailing, minibus-taxi operators will benefit from lower costs, less congestion, and increased passenger numbers. Commuters will also benefit as it will make it a lot easier to catch a minibus-taxi,” said Herron.

You can read more about the IPTN here.

Read: Expect taxi fare increases after petrol price hike

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