FUTURE CAPE TOWN | How mapping public transport can help commuters

‘more than 600 Stops covered by public transport moving in and out of Bellville across 60 routes.’

800px-BellvilleWC-Aerial (1)

GoMetro have created an innovative interactive mapping and schedule system in Bellville that looks set to become a showcase for South African cities looking to answer the ‘information gap’ surrounding public transport.

Read more:

There are more than 600 Stops covered by public transport moving in and out of Bellville and these are spread across 60 routes. The GoMetro Map facilitates the accessibility of these routes, allowing commuters to plan and trace their journeys from Bellville to anywhere in the Cape Town area – without the need for a private car.  As one of the major transport hubs of the Western Cape, Bellville is ripe for a pilot project that could be rolled out nationwide.

Bridging the information gap

“The world is urbanizing at an incredible pace, and there are over a thousand cities globally that are struggling with the exact same dilemmas that South African cities are. The production of this Integrated Transport Map for Bellville is a showcase for the value GoMetro offers cities in South Africa, but also other areas such as  Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Nigeria and Turkey.” GoMetro CEO, Justin Coetzee

A problem affecting all major cities in South Africa is the dearth of digital information available that  provides public transport routes (including minibus taxis). A GoMetro representative explains: “Integrated transport should not only be about infrastructure but also about information.”

In creating a new map and over the course of a hundred days , a team from GoMetro rode all buses, trains and taxis that access the Bellville Public Transport Terminal in order to build a complete map of public transport to and from Bellville. The mapping process was undertaken from the bottom-up as an exploratory activity, and not from the top-down as a strategic activity. This allowed the team to make some key discoveries:

  •  Operator knowledge: minibus taxi operators make routing decisions according to the commercial viability of routes. They focus on key routes used for commuting to and from work in the city.  They garner this knowledge through experience – without the aid of planners and consultants.

  • Communication: a lack of integration with how public transport information is shared with commuters. Each transport mode has its own separate  platform for communicating transport information. Information provided is also not easily understood. A lack of information also means that it’s  difficult to embark on trips in areas not serviced by bus or rail – which accounts for large parts of the urban landscape.

  • Coverage: there are swathes of the city that have no no MyCiTi provision. However these areas are covered by minibus taxis and trains.

The team also recommend that the an information committee be formed in Cape Town  that involves the City, the Western Cape Government, transport operators  and private enterprise. This committee would push forward the sharing of key transport information and elicit further discussion on improving the accessibility to information.

Creating the map

The GoMetro Bellville Map has been generated by the GoMetro Mapper app – (a mapping technology developed by GoMetro), by a team equipped with smartphones and the will to do something that has never been done before in a South African city.

For 3 months at the end of 2014, GoMetro mapped all transport routes around Bellville. GoMetro’s offices are in the Tygerberg area, and we wanted to use our mapping technology for the benefit of the residents of Bellville and surrounds.

The new mapping technique integrates the sprawling minibus taxi network into their mobile app allowing passengers to easily plan journeys. The app also integrates schedule information for Metrorail, MyCiti and Golden Arrow routes. 

The map includes information about where commuters will find transport to and from the Bellville area. Therefore the map provides information on accessing the rest of the greater Cape Town Metropolitan area from the Bellville Transport Hub. GoMetro also fills the information gap by providing second-degree connections that can be made from Bellville.



Download the map here

Wesley Diphoko, GoMetro Head of Mapping says “The objective of this pilot project was to prove to ourselves and the transport sector that mapping of all transport in a consolidated fashion is possible. We have used our mapping technology for the benefit of the residents of Bellville and the surrounding areas – in our own backyard, as it were.”

Justin Coetzee, GoMetro CEO explains the philosophy behind the changes: “commuters have a right to a clear view of their transport options.” This also extends to pricing, not only is their app user-friendly and efficient but or provides fare information across all transportation modes.

Promoting passenger safety

The findings of the GoMetro also provide methods to tackle alarming levels of road safety. Existing transport infrastructure in Bellville and surrounds fails to account for taxi services. There is a a lack of designated stops for taxis and this compromises passenger safety. This leads to erratic journeys with multiple passengers distracting the drivers with their detailed drop-off requests or choosing unsafe dispatch points.

The Bellville Map illustrates where stops are located for commuters to know where to wait for their transport. In the long run this way of communicating transport information will influence commuter behaviour and improve accessibility to transport.

It is also believed that the provision of designated stops built and managed by the City would in turn lead to more responsible behaviour from taxi drivers. There is a taxi-stopping facility at Tygervalley Mall and taxis operate within the requirements of that facility – improving passenger safety.

GoMetro would like to continue to refresh and renew their map of public transport across Cape Town and to do this they would like to invite members of the public to join in mapping using our Mapping App. Anyone who is interested can send an email to admin@gometro.co.za

 *Top photo by Andres de Wet.