Joburg taxi operators demand dedicated taxi lanes

Taxis in Westdene, Johannesburg use the dedicated Rea Vaya bus lanes, 26 June 2018. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Taxis in Westdene, Johannesburg use the dedicated Rea Vaya bus lanes, 26 June 2018. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

But a town planning expert called this ‘impractical’ and could lead to longer delays, more exhaust fumes, and greater road safety risks.

When it comes to overtaking and speeding, taxi drivers are known for braving it in ferrying commuters to their destinations – sometimes at the risk of being fined by police.

But according to the Alexandra Taxi Association (ATA) spokesperson, Jabulani Ntshangase, they have “not yet reached the mountain top”, until they get what they want – their own dedicated taxi lane.

“It’d be great if we can get our own dedicated taxi lane and drive alongside metro and Rea Vaya buses,” said Ntshangase, whose association this week staged a one-day protest against the impounding of 500 illegal minibus taxis by the metro officers.

ATA has given the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) until next week to respond to their list of demands, which Ntshangase maintained included a call for the construction of a dedicated taxi lane.

Given the enormous complexity of adding a dedicated lane, bringing his idea to fruition may be “impractical”, says Gauteng town planning expert Peter Dacomb.

Dacomb, a member of the SA Council for Planners, said: “Given the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems – Rea Vaya in Johannesburg and and A Re Yeng in Pretoria – operating via dedicated bus lanes, the size and capacity of typical minibus taxis, it appears impractical to accommodate them in dedicated lanes as per the examples of the BRT buses with higher passenger numbers and fewer vehicle trips.”

He added that municipalities were bound by various laws, including those regulating road use.

“Any proposal to introduce dedicated taxi lanes will firstly have to be given notice of the affected public, who may object.

“Then a design process must follow to provide for the taxi lanes – if practically possible. It may even require of the municipality to expropriate more land to widen the affected road reserves.”

Asked about the impact this could have on other road users, Dacomb said the effect “will probably be less road capacity for individual drivers, longer delays, more exhaust fume pollution, and greater road safety risks”.

In explaining what went into town planning when it came to the construction of additional dedicated road lanes, he said roads were “typically public places, which vest in the municipality to hold and maintain on behalf of the general public”.

“Dedicated lanes in public road reserves is not a new phenomenon.” said Dacomb. “Historically, trams used to enjoy dedicated lanes in road reserves, shared by private motor vehicles and buses.

“When applying town planning principles, road reserves are planned for a particular purpose such as a collector road, a thoroughfare, and a local access road.

“How dedicated taxi lanes may be accommodated in existing road reserves will be dependent on a number of factors, including the reserve width and its function.”

Dacomb said costs depended on various factors, such as slopes, distance and bends.

“Costs are very difficult to determine without analysing each route. The cost of the Rea Vaya BRT system will probably be similar when applied to the taxi model,” he said.

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