The Future

This brief is the last in a series of six on urban transport and discusses the planned future of the transport system in the five largest metros.

The first two briefs presented statistical material which delineates key current features of transport in metropolitan and urban areas. The third brief dealt with trains, the fourth with buses and the fifth with minibus taxis.

Maps are helpful in understanding plans, but they would not be legible in this A4 format document.  They have been placed in a separate atlas in A3 format.


This brief will consider transport planning in the five largest metros: the three Gauteng metros, Ethekwini and Cape Town.

Each metro is expected to have a Travel Demand Management System (TDM) as part of their Integrated Transport Network Plan. The TDM is intended to project demand for transport services and to reduce the number of private vehicle trips made. There is a need to move to more compact urban forms, to improve public transport infrastructure, to create more effective integrated operations and to improve marketing and communications. The dominant idea is for development to occur along land use-transport corridors, intended to promote compact mixed use cities. The integration of land use and transport seems to be critical in the pursuit of achieving more sustainable and equitable transport practices.

Lack of TDM measures gives rise to transport systems which are not spatially and operationally integrated. This means that routes are not planned to be integrated with routes of other transport modes and even when the routes are actually integrated, operational time tables are not well structured to ensure that modal transfers are convenient and efficient. Complex and unclear institutional arrangements and responsibilities between the different spheres of government make integration more complicated.


The Johannesburg map[1] (Page 2 in the Atlas) shows the existing and proposed transport network in Johannesburg. It shows a BRT backbone running from north and central Soweto to the CBD and on to Alexandra, Sandton and Randburg. The Gautrain remains as is. So does the railway line which runs in an east to west direction south of the Central Business District with a branch to Park Station, and an extension to Soweto. The blue areas delineate the transport backbone, with areas outlined in blue are elements of the Randburg to O R Tambo corridor. One of the major objectives of the Johannesburg development framework is to establish a public transport system that is reliable, affordable and accessible to all, which will allow people to access work opportunities outside of their residential areas. The polycentric nature of the city is shown clearly by the red inner city and urban nodal areas.

Each sphere of government plays a role in the transport system of Johannesburg. For instance, the national government is responsible for the freeways (N routes), passenger and freight rail.

The provincial Department of Roads and Transport is in charge of building and maintaining various provincially-owned roads in Johannesburg, public transport infrastructure on provincial roads. It is also the contracting authority for various bus services in Johannesburg, and administers economic regulation of public transport through the issuing of operating licences, for vehicle licensing and for the Gautrain high-speed rail system in the province.

The municipality handles the Metro bus and the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. It is also responsible for building public transport infrastructure and maintaining the roads owned by the City through its company, the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA). The Transport Department is also responsible for all transport planning in the city.

A lack of investment in the Metrorail system handled by PRASA over the last 30 years has resulted in a poor-quality service, unreliable, unsafe and very slow, especially for long commutes. However, PRASA has entered into a modernisation and recapitalisation programme to improve travel speeds, to modernise key stations and ticketing, and to significantly upgrade the quality of service.

Five of the ten Gautrain stations are located in Johannesburg: Johannesburg Park, Rosebank, Sandton, Marlboro and Midrand. The Gautrain provides high-quality services, and its target market is mostly the private car user. Passenger satisfaction is very high. The Gautrain has been criticised on the ground that it services central locations and neglects the peripheries, giving an advantage to the wealthier part of the population. On the other hand, the Gautrain has a positive impact on land prices and it has taken some pressure off the roads.

Bus services are all subsidised and are provided by: the City’s Metrobus company, Rea Vaya BRT and services contracted and subsidised by the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport. Rea Vaya’s service quality is controlled by the Scheduled Services Management Unit in the municipal Department of Transport and it offers a quality service which is affordable. In respect of the provincial subsidised contracts, the Putco Soweto contract is the largest with 490 buses.

Metrobus operates just under 400 buses and carry about 50 000 passengers daily. Currently, Metrobus is being recapitalised with up to 200 new buses. The relationship between Metrobus and the City is also being restructured to make Metrobus operate in a similar way to Rea Vaya services with a fee per kilometre contract and penalties for poor performance.

The minibus taxis is the most dominant public transport mode in Johannesburg. There are 32 short-distance taxi associations controlling at least 12 300 privately-owned taxis, running 1 000 different routes. The taxi commuter routes form a largely radial network focused on the CBD. Most passengers make their trips using one taxi all the way, others require a taxi-taxi combination or transfers to trains or buses. There are also substantial long-distance minibus taxi operations to 100 national and international destinations, mainly from the CBD.

The system experiences weaknesses in regulation, and about 80% of Johannesburg minibus taxi operators do not hold the required permits or operating licences. Plans are in place to address this, including an investigation into the establishment of a Municipal Regulatory Entity (MRE) in terms of Section 17 of the National Land Transport Act, (Act No. 5 of 2009) and the integration of the minibus taxi industry into the formal public transport system. Many passengers regard minibus-taxis as unsafe, the drivers are rude, and the facilities are poor and insecure.

It is intended to increase the number of short-distance trips and non-motorised transport modes, such as walking and cycling are alternatives to public transport especially over short distances.

Johannesburg’s transport plan appears feasible within a twenty year time horizon.


Commuter rail traffic is relatively important in Ekurhuleni, accounting for 19% of all public transport journeys. All railway services in Ekurhuleni from the north run through Germiston Station. The rail system in Ekurhuleni comprises 69 existing commuter rail stations and commuter rail services extend to some sections of the Transnet-owned railway network. A number of extensions are proposed, including:

  • Tembisa to Ivory Park
  • Daveyton to Etatwa
  • Etwatwa to Mayfield
  • Katlehong to Eden Park
  • Katlehong to Vosloorus

The current municipal bus service is confined to Brakpan, Germiston and Boksburg. Three phases of expansion are planned:

  • Expansion of services in Brakpan, Germiston and Boksburg
  • Introduction of services from existing areas to neighbouring areas
  • Linking of towns in Ekurhuleni by bus.

Taxis are used by a large number of people in Ekurhuleni and they account for 74% of public transport trips. There are more than 11 000 minibus taxis in the city, moving approximately 335 000 passengers a day. The highest taxi volumes occur in Germiston, Boksburg, Kempton Park, Benoni and Springs. The following are the routes along the main corridors:

  • Daveyton to Benoni
  • Kwethema to Springs
  • Tsakane to Brakpan
  • Duduza to Nigel
  • Tembisa to Kempton Park
  • Vosloorus to Boksburg
  • Katlehong to Germiston
  • Tokoza to Alberton
  • Daveyton to Dunswart Station

As indicated in the Ekurhuleni map[2] (Page 3 in the Atlas), Ekurhuleni has ambitious plans for a BRT network. It is unlikely to be fully realised.

Ekurhuleni’s transport plans are ambitious and everything will depend on how the metro gross geographic product grows.


The major bus routes are Mpumalanga (former KwaNdebele), Shoshanguve/Mabopane and Hammanskraal to the inner city. The services operate from 14 depots, 23 major terminals, 25 major bus stops as well as various ordinary bus stops. There are 4 bus operators that provide services to the city: PUTCO, North-west Star, Thari, and the Tshwane municipal Bus services. The first three operators run on provincially subsidised routes.

As can be seen from the Tshwane map[3] (Page 4 in the Atlas), the metro plans an ambitious BRT system, little of which is operational to date.

Taxis can be found all over the City. However, safety, comfort and customer relations have always been a challenge as far as taxis are concerned. The transformation of public transport together with mainstreaming of the minibus taxi industry forms part of the planned public transport system.

Tshwane has a comprehensive network of rail infrastructure, but some parts of it have been decommissioned, while others, including the train station, are not well maintained and are in poor condition. It is proposing a ring rail project running from Pretoria station to Kilner Park in the north east to Hercules in the north west, and round to Pretoria station again. In the longer term the following rail links are proposed:

  • A North-South linkage from Hammanskraal to Centurion, intersecting at the Daspoort and Hercules stations to give the option to travel in the direction of Atteridgeville, Bronkhorstpruit and Cullinan;
  • An East-West linkage from Saulsville Station to Bronkhorstpruit, intersecting at Daspoort and Hercules Stations to give the option to travel in the direction of Hammanskraal or Centurion
  • A connection Northwards from the East- West Linkage connecting to Cullinan and Ekandsustria (nodes of employment)

The Gautrain has stations at Centurion, Pretoria and Hatfield.

Road transport in Gauteng

The map[4] (Page 5 in the Atlas) shows the planned development of Class 1 roads. The Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project proposes new roads indicated in red. The roads in green are planned primarily as freight routes.

Cape Town

The modal split during a peak period on a weekday morning is estimated to be:

  • Cars 53%
  • Rail 18%
  • Contracted bus 7%
  • Minibus taxi 12%
  • Non-motorized transport 9%

The BRT trunk routes in the 2032 IPTN consist of 4 existing routes (T01, T02, T03, T04) which form part of Phase 1 of the MyCiTi system and 10 new rail and BRT routes. The aim is for both the rail and BRT system to be the catalyst of spatial integration, especially around the railway stations and BRT stations.

Significant overcrowding on certain minibus-taxi routes during peak times can be observed, especially departures from Plein Street in Cape Town, Heideveld Station, Joe Slovo Park, Mandalay, Parow Station and Simons Town.

Non-Motorised Transport depends solely on human or animal power for movement. The various types of NMT modes in Cape Town are: persons travelling by foot or using a wheelchair; cyclists; skateboarders; roller-skaters and scooters; animal drawn transport or animal drawn vehicles; horse riders; persons moving goods, recyclers using trolleys or dust bins. Most of the roads have sidewalks to ensure there is space for pedestrians to walk.

The key transport trends to be addressed are:

  • the deterioration of the rail service resulting in a decrease in rail usage and increase in road usage;
  • the increasingly unsustainable cost of transport for low income households; and
  • the growing disjuncture between transport and land use in Cape Town.

Currently there are four different ticketing systems used by the operators of the four public transport modes in Cape Town (rail, BRT, conventional bus and minibus-taxis). Integrated ticketing is a key component of an Integrated Public Transport Network, so that a passenger purchases a single ticket or smartcard that can be used as payment when transferring between any one of these modes of transport. The MyConnect smartcard that is currently in use on the MyCiTi trunk and feeder service could be extended for use on the rail, conventional bus and minibus-taxi modes.

The Cape Town map[5] (Page 6 in the Atlas) shows the configuration of the existing and proposed transport network.


The goals of public transport are:

  • to make use of appropriate modes of transport, for different levels of demand;
  • to get rid of inefficient competition between various modes;
  • to promote public transport over private transport;
  • to cater for the needs of travellers, as well as the special needs of some travellers; and
  • to manage and regulate all modes of transport.

The bus service routes are about 1400 and are serviced by approximately 200 operators in a mix of subsidised contracts and unsubsidized services. About 120 taxi associations serve the municipal area, and the current public transport system is economically inefficient. Many transport services are in direct competition with each other, this leads to unprofitable rail and bus trips, and taxis competition for passengers on some routes.

There are 52 train sets operating on the current rail network. PRASA has already made considerable investments in station upgrades in Rossburgh, Isipingo, Durban, KwaMashu, KwaMyandu and Moses Mabhida. Some progress has been made in the last 5 years in the recapitalisation of rolling stock with the new taxis, municipal buses and the commuter rail fleet. The PRASA strategy now focuses mainly on the renewal and replacement of rail infrastructure rather than refurbishment, including the procurement of new rolling stock over the next 20 years, modernisation of stations and infrastructure, such as track and electrical substation upgrades.

As can be seen from the Ethekwini map[6] (Page 7 in the Atlas), Ethekwini is developing nine transport corridors.


Transport development plans are usually constructed within a time framework. Feasibility, however, depends on increments in gross domestic product. In the short run, these will be limited. The IMF October 2017 growth rate projections are:

  • 2018 1.05%
  • 2019 1.58%
  • 2020 2.20%
  • 2021 2.20%
  • 2022 2.20%

A consequence will be a low rate of investment in transport infrastructure. For instance, the Department of Transport reported to Parliament in September 2017 that the capital grants for BRT development were cut by 3% in the 2016 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and a further 3% in the 2017 MTEF.

In addition, BRT plans in Ekurhuleni and Tshwane are too ambitious even over a 20 year horizon. Cape Town is the only city which is likely to proceed to Phase 2 BRT, and if it is constructed, it will require heavy subsidisation from the rates account. Durban’s plans are harder to assess, but priority will probably be given to the transport corridors in the north-south directions from King Shaka Airport through Bridge City and:

  1. KwaMashu down to the Durban CBD and on to Umlazi; and
  2. to Pinetown.

Agathe Fonkam

[1] Source: City of Johannesburg Spatial Development Framework 2040

[2] Source: Ekuruhleni Metropolitan Spatial Development Framework, 2015

[3] Source: Tshwane Metropolitan Spatial Development Framework, 2012

[4] Source: Gauteng 25 Year Integrated Transport Master Plan, November 2013, Annexure J

[5] Source: Cape Town Integrated Transport Plan 2001-2022

[6] Source: Ethekwini Municipal Spatial Development Framework 2017/18 to 2021/22