@Mycitibus Journeys: MyCiTi city – a journey to future Cape Town

Welcome aboard this MyCiTi service to future Cape Town, calling at Woodstock, Paarden Eiland, Milnerton and Table View. Yes, believe it or not, one needs to travel to the West Coast to see where Cape Town is going. This afternoon I did just that. Here are my observations and ideas for improving the service.

I waited a little over ten minutes for a bus at Michaelis on Orange Street. The timetable at the stop said the bus would arrive at 13:31. It arrived at 13:35. Michaelis is only the third stop on the route, so I’m not sure why the bus was four minutes late. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect an inner city bus to be on time; hence, I feel that timetables on bus stops are pointless. A simple “every 10 minutes” will suffice, as it is less likely to lead to disappointment. The feeder routes are currently run like mini trunk routes, which is a problem. A timetable is inappropriate for a service that will be affected by traffic – it makes the service seem less efficient than it is. See how easy it is to complain that the bus is four minutes late? I assume this is also why drivers pull over at every bus stop on the route – to stick to the schedule. I actually find this pretty infuriating, and would probably be seriously annoyed if I were in a hurry. A driver need only stop if someone has signalled their intention to alight or to board from the street.

I was not charged for my journey. It seems as if officials are only charging on the inner city route if you change at the Civic Centre or continue to the Waterfront. If you exit at Civic or at any other stop en route, you’ve scored a free journey. Is this intentional? I know of cities that run free public transport services in their centres, but I’d personally prefer to pay. I want MyCiTi to work.

At the Civic Centre, I had to run to buy a ticket for T1 Table View. I boarded a packed bendy bus about a minute before it left the station. MyCiTi began to shine immediately. The West Coast trunk route is by far the best service currently in operation. The entire route is landscaped, which makes travelling through even lower Woodstock and Paarden Eiland a pleasant experience. When I think of the state of our railway lines …

People of all races, classes and ages were on board. Most travelled all the way to Table View. It’s great that we have a station called Neptune, not so great that we have one called Vrystaat. But hey, I didn’t object when I had the chance so there’s no point in complaining. In my opinion, MyCiTi would benefit greatly from automated pre-recorded announcements. It’s not always easy to see which station is up ahead, or even which station you’re at when your bus has docked. “The next station is Table View. Change for feeder services to Big Bay, Parklands and Blaauwberg. Exit for Bayside Mall.”

At Table View, three feeder buses arrived immediately after T1. It was a beautiful thing to see – a glimpse of how MyCiTi will eventually be operating all over the city. The station is very efficient, but could really do with some signage directing you to Bayside and to other attractions (are there attractions in Table View?). Stations, in general, need seating.

Table View Station has the best artwork of them all – I love the South Easter Bunnies.

I have an issue with regards attention to detail. Nothing irks me more than when a driver forgets to update the destination dot matrix on the front of the bus (or forgets to put it on altogether). It happens often – a hangover perhaps from mediocre Golden Arrow, which now operates much of MyCiTi. Some inner city buses still display “Inner City 1” or “Inner City 2”. On my feeder bus back to Gardens was a sticker with the World Cup inner city route map.

I absolutely love the way they’ve retrofitted the Civic Centre with the main bus station. Now all they need to do is place a massive MyCiTi logo at the top of the building, so you can see it from everywhere in town.

Despite its flaws, I’m very optimistic about MyCiTi. Once the feeder buses arrive, electronic ticketing is introduced, and all the bugs are ironed out, I’m confident we will have a much more liveable city, with a public transport system we can all be proud of. I’m already proud of the advancements that have been made and plan to make use of MyCiTi as often as possible. Next week I will be switching from inner city minibus taxis to F1. The service will make my commute from Gardens to the CBD that much more comfortable. I only wish MyCiTi ran up and down Kloof Street. It forms part of a busy taxi route and the city needs to get middle class people who already use public transport to switch to the new buses if they have any hope of attracting private vehicle commuters in future.

Brent Smith