Express bus service coming to Khayelitsha, Mitchell’s Plain by 2014

1 year and 1 month. That is the amount of time the City of Cape Town hopes that it requires to extend an Express MyCiTi bus service to the Cape Flats and start operating from December 2013. It is unsure whether this is feasible given the multiple times other deadlines and milestones have been missed. The plans below provide an overview of how they are aiming to achieve this.

The MyCiTi system is the City of Cape Town‘s Intergrated Rapid Transit project intended to provide a scheduled bus services within 500m radius of at least 75% of households and workplaces in the metropolitan region. It consists of 4 phases that will take about 25 years to be fully implemented. The MyCiTi service will not replace Metrorail services, but will aim to connect the unconnected areas of the city and provide the ‘last kilometer’ service between rail (which should be the reliable and safe backbone of the city’s transport in about 10 years’ time) and citizen’s destinations.

Currently, the MyCiTi is in phase 1 which includes the West Coast Region, the central business district, the Atlantic Seaboard and now recently announced this Express service. The Express service is not regarded as part of Phase 2 and will be used only as a temporary transport service to citizens in the Cape Flats (or Metro South East as it’s officially know). It’s main intention is to reduce pressure on Metrorail until rail services have been upgraded and meet an acceptable standard for commuters. Additionally, it will provide the city with an opportunity to test new approaches for building stations, routes, etc. for phase 2 (which is the Metro South East expansion).

The four phases of the MyCiTi system. Look how amazing is that rail system. Hopefully the MyCiTi bus will connect all the missing spots soon. See a previous post with outdated timeframes here.

The city has already agreed on a few innovations or changes which they will be experimenting on the MyCiTi Express service and which hopefully use in phases 2, 3 and 4. One such innovation is the move to having both trunks and feeder buses with low-floors (unlike the high-floored trunk buses on the West Coast Route). This will allow much greater flexibility between trunk and feeder as well as cost saving with better station designs.

Three locations have already been identified for enclosed trunk stations (similar to the Civic Centre Station in Cape Town CBD) from where a non-stop Express service to the Civic Centre Station will operate. These locations are:

  • Mitchell’s Plain CBD (near the existing bus terminus)
  • Khayelitsha train station (opposite to Khayelitsha’s first coffee shop), and
  • Nolungile (Site C) train station.

Locations for the enclosed MyCiTi bus stations in Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha for the ‘N2 Express’ service.
It will only provide temporary services until commuter rail services improved to an acceptable level and MyCiTi phase 2 has been fully implemented.

Although a BRT service is not really ideal for mass transport over very long distances (Khayelitsha to Cape Town CBD is extremely long in a BRT framework), it should provide users another alternative to the current minibus-taxi, Golden Arrow Bus and Metrorail services. Ideally by that time the city’s Transport Authority has implemented the myconnect card to be useable on all these services, further making public transport convenient for Cape Flats users.

Other than current public transport services being unreliable for these areas, what makes this Express service so important is he fact that the Metro South East houses a very large proportion of Cape Town’s population. In fact, Khayelitsha has population densities that are higher than anywhere else in the city, which supports not only one form of public transport, but supports the introduction of multiple public transport services.

A graphic showing the population density throughout the Cape Town metropolitan region.

This Express service might seem like a very simple task to some of our international readers. Broadly, the express service consists of stations on either sides and ordering buses to transport people, which may seem easy. However, to operate the system talks with the industry will need to take place for the service to be accepted by the approximately 47 different operators in the Metro South East, which includes Golden Arrow. In comparison, the West Coast service launched earlier in 2011, had to only deal with 8 operators.
It’s definitely going to be a challenge to extend services to these areas. Although, one hopes that citizens of these areas don’t react in a similar fashion to theNIMBYs in Sea Point who are currently reacting to the expansion of the MyCiTi system to their neighbourhood. The popularity of this express service, could support a more rapid expansion of the service within the Metro South-East, and would help to iron out issues before work begins on the full Phase 2.

Mitchell’s Plan Bus Terminus: Approximate site of the Mitchells Plain MyCiTi Express stop. View Larger Map

Nolungile Train Station: Site of the Nolungile MyCiTi Express stop. View Larger Map

Khayelitsha Train Station: A view towards the a site of the Khayelitsha MyCiTi Express stop.  View Larger Map

About Rouen Smit

Future actuary working at a company based in Cape Town. Love open water swimming. Love taking public transport and feeling the city. The Future’s Bright

There are 3 comments

  1. JeanM

    While I do support the enrollment of the MyCiti service first into the poorer and more populated areas, I also think that the City should start ASAP on the Northern Suburbs like Brackenfell and Kraaifontein. These areas are rapidly expanding, in such a manner that each area are getting a new school. And also most of the people who work in the city lives in this areas, having to drive in and out of the city everyday using private (expensive) transport. With no taxi or bus service on this route to the city, we really need the MyCiti service. The only other option is rail service, and that isn’t really an option.

    1. OSlOlSO

      I fully agree with you. However, the Northern Suburbs does have more reliable rail services than the Metro South East of town. Also, if you look at the population density of the city – most people are concentrated in the Metro South East. Rail services are therefore unable to cope with the amount of traffic in that ‘corridor’.

      Why do you say rail isn’t really an option? 50% of Capetonians use it everyday (including me).

      Also, I don’t think MyCiTi will offer direct routes from the Northern Suburbs into the CBD. It will merely act as ‘feeders’ for the rail service (which by then should be 1st world standards) and connecting the missing spots in the Northern Suburbs.

    2. gksa

      The Northern Suburbs line (via Monte Vista) is the best Metrorail line in the entire city – I don’t know why anyone would not want to take it, with the possible exception of Ferrari-owners. Sadly, as it is not fully utilised by residents of the Northern Suburbs, the schedule keeps getting reduced, and the service gets less regular.

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