Cape Town has asked government to update South Africa’s lockdown transport rules – here’s what it wants

The City of Cape Town has requested that national government update its lockdown regulations around public transport, citing a number of issues with the current rules.

The proposed amendments are aimed at clarifying contradicting regulations and to relax the operating hours to reduce the number of people travelling in the peak hours, said the city’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Felicity Purchase.

She added that the amendments will improve the implementation of physical distancing in public transport vehicles and address general health and safety issues such as the sanitisation of vehicles, and the provision of hand sanitiser to commuters.

“We do not know for how long the national lockdown will last. Given that this may still carry on for weeks, we want to ensure that public transport services operate as smoothly and efficiently as possible, while taking the necessary actions to avoid the spread of Covid-19,” she said.

“The City’s Transport Directorate has identified some key challenges with the current regulations and we believe that the proposed amendments will assist in addressing these.”

Below are the proposed amendments that Cape Town wants to be introduced:

  • To extend the operating hours for all public transport services so that the city can reduce the number of commuters in the morning and afternoon peak hour periods. The proposal is to either allow passengers to also travel in the afternoon – between 12h00 and 14h00; or, to allow public transport operators to transport passengers from 05h00 until 20h00 daily. Longer operating hours will assist with the easing of queues at taxi-ranks, bus stations and stops, and at shopping centres and shops;
  • Currently only the minibus-taxi industry is allowed to proceed to pick-up and drop-off points outside of the allowed operating hours. This grace period should be extended to all public transport service providers;
  • All public transport vehicles, irrespective the type of vehicle, must have windows that can open. Standing must be allowed on buses, and midi-buses as this will make it easier for passengers to space themselves and to avoid physical contact;
  • All public transport operators – be it buses, minibus-taxis, or e-hailing operators – must have hand sanitiser available inside the vehicle for commuters to use;
  •  All public transport vehicles must be cleaned and sanitised inside and outside, at least twice a day. Other regular wiping of common surfaces should continue during operations, and as often as possible;
  • All state entities, government institutions and non-government organisations should be allowed to provide transport to essential workers, as and when transport is needed to ensure the continuing of essential services. Currently, only private sector institutions and companies are allowed to provide transport to essential workers;
  • To exempt minibus-taxi drivers from the requirement to have an essential services worker permit while driving. Currently, minibus-taxi drivers are compelled to have a permit as an essential services worker and this requirement is impractical and disruptive for the minibus-taxi industry. Drivers are still required to have an operating licence.

Read: How to look after your car during lockdown

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Cape Town has asked government to update South Africa’s lockdown transport rules – here’s what it wants