Old Marine Drive Closure: Another ad-hoc intervention or a real attempt at transport integration?

THE City of Cape Town is planning on permanently closing off parts of Old Marine Drive near the Civic Centre, with plans to convert the area into a public transport precinct.

Members of the public will have an opportunity to discuss the proposed closure of part of the road on July 4 at a public meeting and to raise any concerns and issues.

City spokesperson Pieter Cronje said the proposed closure of the road is part of the greater “pedestrianisation” of the city.

Project head Melanie Olson of the City of Cape Town said consultants were already working on the plan which will be presented once completed.

“We first want to test it with the traffic to see if it’s going to be viable to close the road. We want to give precedence to pedestrians and public transport,” Olson said.

She said there is currently a nonmotorised transport (NMT) facility proposed for that route. The city is also proposing that other than pedestrians and commuters, only long distance buses, meter taxis and vehicles needing access to the properties along the section of road be allowed access to the mall.

“In essence we can’t separate the long-distance buses and meter taxi holding areas. That whole hub is a transport hub with Integrated Rapid Transit (IRT) on one side and long distance and meter taxis on the other side,” said Olson.

“At this stage it doesn’t look like the general public is using that road much. But the idea will be subject to a public meeting,” said Olson.

She said the city would like to have the plan implemented as soon as possible.

“We would like to implement during the next financial year.

“There are no costs details from the consultants yet. But there will be minor infrastructure (upgrades),” said Olson.

She said the proposal was a combined project between the City of Cape Town and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) and will be linked to the ongoing urban renewal programme to revitalise the Cape Town Station area.

Some R400 million was allocated to upgrade the transport facilities including the Cape Town Station in time for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

Prasa set aside the R400m for the upgrade, which included the complete overhaul and modernisation of the current station building and the beautification of station square and the market area.

The City of Cape Town on the other hand has spent more than R300m on non-motorised transport facilities in the past three financial years.