Government is testing a new system for taxis and buses in South Africa – what you should know

Rustenburg, Polokwane and Mangaung will be the first cities in South Africa to trial the country’s new integrated ticketing system, says transport minister Fikile Mbalula.

Responding in a recent written parliamentary Q&A, Mbalula said the pilot is expected to formally begin later this year, and will initially focus on bus and minibus services.

He added that South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) has been included in the pilot, with the group currently consulting on identifying its own pilot site utilising minibus taxis.

The idea of a single-ticket system was first mooted in 2017, while a similar system was trialled in Pretoria by Santaco for minibus taxi commuters in 2016. That project enabled commuters on the Johannesburg, Pretoria and Mabopane (JPM) route to use a single card to pay for all their transactions.

The government’s ultimate goal is to use one card/ticket for all their public transport journeys, across all modes, such as rail and bus. This will help phase out cash from the system and theoretically improve the safety of both passengers and drivers.

A single ticket will also make it significantly easier to travel in South Africa as commuters will no longer be expected to pay when they transfer from taxis to other services.

Integrated systems

The pilot forms part of the government’s broader plan to consolidate the country’s transport networks towards what it calls Integrated Public Transport Networks (IPTNs).

This shift is necessary to deliver a public transport system that is responsive to the needs of the people, Mbalula said in his May budget speech.

“The rollout of the IPTNs will be equally strengthened by the establishment of an oversight mechanism under the leadership of the Minister and political principals of the relevant Cities implementing IPTNs.  This will ensure that accountability for the implementation of the integrated public transport networks is pitched at political level.

However, he noted the implementation of IPTNs in various cities has not been without problems. Capacity challenges in some of the cities have given rise to complications that have either delayed or stalled progress, he said.

“Seven cities are already operational and are working towards expanding current services.  These are the City of Cape Town, George, Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg, Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay and Polokwane.

“Three additional cities are working towards the launch of new services.  These are Rustenburg, Mangaung and eThekwini.  eThekwini is currently experiencing challenges due to unsuccessful negotiations with taxi operators on the affected routes. Over the medium term, all ten cities are expected to be fully operational with expansions to directly serve major townships,” he said.

Read: Cape Town plans to build a ‘sky circle’ to help ease traffic

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