Cape Town’s public transport system will experience a modest step forward with the re-introduction of bus and minibus-taxi (BMT) lanes later this year.
The City of Cape Town, is currently preparing a BMT lane (a uniquely South African term) that will run from Mowbray through Woodstock to the Central City. This type of priority lane is different to the red, segregated MyCiTi bus lanes in that these will only be marked (painted) to indicate priority to buses and min-taxis during certain times of the day.
Brett Herron, Mayoral Committee Member responsible for Transport, Roads and Stormwater, believes that the planned BMT lanes could be launched as early as September 2012. According to Herron, the BMT lanes will operate similarly to the N2 BMT lanes, but will not have cameras installed to detect and fine private vehicles using the lanes during prioritised times. Prioritised times for the BMT lanes will consist of an in- and outbound period, being 7-9AM and 4-6PM.
This BMT lane will form part of the City of Cape Town’s greater plan to create an integrated public transport network, consisting of Rail (Metorail), Buses (MyCiTi and others), Minibus-taxis and Non-motorised transport options, such as bicycling. An investigation into public transport within the City, revealed that almost 70% of Capetonians used public transport facilities. It also revealed that during peak commuting times, more than 30 000 use this stretch of road everyday, compared to the approximate 4000 who use their own private vehicles.
Asked about how the City will keep these BMT lanes clear of private motorist during prioritised periods, Herron pointed to the allocation of funding by the Transport Department for a team of 13 law enforcement officers. This team will monitor and enforce the lanes during the prioritised periods and will then be deployed to the MyCiTi bus lanes during non-peak times.
A dedicated tow vehicle will also be used to remove vehicles parked in the BMT lanes during the prioritise periods. The combination of removing vehicles and fining offenders will greatly assist in ensuring that the BMT lanes are kept clear during prioritised periods allowing for a smoother flow of public transport.
With the introduction of the BMT lane, the City is surely moving closer to becoming a “Public Transport, People and Quality of Life First” city, looking at the needs of the majority of citizens, who are public transport users. Now let’s all get back to praying for improved Metrorail services…