Statement by Mayoral Committee Member: Transport for Cape Town, Councillor Brett Herron

The City’s transport authority, Transport for Cape Town (TCT), had set itself a target of 5,3 million passenger journeys on the MyCiTi service for the 2013/2014 financial year. This target was exceeded by 2,1 million, with a mammoth 7,4 million passenger journeys being recorded on the MyCiTi buses from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014.

Since then TCT has seen an even greater demand for the MyCiTi service, partly because of the roll-out of the N2 Express service to Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha on 5 July 2014, and partly because of the growing confidence in the service: in June a total of 1 075 271 passenger journeys were recorded; in July 1 178 523; and in August 1 305 561.

The growth in passenger journeys can also be attributed to the extensive roll-out of the MyCiTi service since November 2013, when the long-term vehicle operator contracts with the minibus-taxi industry and the Golden Arrow Bus Service took effect. In fact, the total number of kilometres of MyCiTi services increased from 308 000 km per month in October 2013 to 1 272 000 km per month in August 2014.

‘It is clear from these statistics that as the service expands, more and more residents rely on the MyCiTi buses to travel around the city, be it to get to work, school or elsewhere. As such, the City has a responsibility to ensure that, as far as possible, the MyCiTi service matches the passenger demand on all the routes. We therefore conducted an optimisation exercise to assess to what extent the resources at our disposal – from our human capital to our buses and infrastructure – are optimised to best suit the current needs,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member: Transport for Cape Town, Councillor Brett Herron.

Thus the optimisation exercise has been conducted to assess to what extent the supply of the MyCiTi public transport service matches the passenger demand and to address any mismatches.

Following this extensive survey and detailed analysis of all the MyCiTi routes across the city over the past four months, a number of changes to routes and timetables will be phased in as from 4 October 2014 until early 2015:

  • Broadly speaking, the number of bus trips during the peak periods will be increased to alleviate the waiting times on the busiest routes, while other schedule changes will result in fewer bus trips during peak hours on quieter routes and during the off-peak periods on all routes to better match the lower passenger demand during these times.
  • Inclusive of this optimisation exercise is the changing of kiosk operating hours and the closure of some kiosks where there is a very low demand, enabling the City to transfer underutilised services to areas where they are needed most. Some of the staff at these stations will be transferred to the new stations in Adderley Street, the Waterfront and Mitchells Plain (when the latter becomes operational).

‘These adjustments to follow from the detailed MyCiTi route-by-route analysis are based on the lessons learned and operating circumstances in running the service. We have to adjust to the realities on the ground if we want to improve the MyCiTi service. In fact, it is the very responsiveness of the MyCiTi service to changes in passenger demand and behaviour that will ensure its future sustainability,’ said Councillor Herron.

Route changes and revised timetables

Residents who make use of the MyCiTi service should please note that the route timetables will be revised in phases over the next eight weeks. The frequency of the MyCiTi buses on all of the routes, especially in the off-peak period on weekdays between 09:00 and 16:00 and after 19:00, as well as over weekends, will be adjusted in accordance with the passenger demand during these periods.

‘The new timetables are informed by the number of passengers utilising the service. Furthermore, an analysis of the daily passenger demand on all the MyCiTi routes and the boarding and alighting along these routes, provided useful insight into how the City can improve on the service during the morning and afternoon peak hours, while at the same time making the service more cost-effective. This detailed analysis is made possible by the City’s award-winning automated fare collection system, built around the myconnect card,’ said Councillor Herron.

Some of the changes are as follows:

  • As from 4 October 2014, TCT will provide a short-turning route for commuters along the inner-city Route 103 (Oranjezicht, Upper Kloof, Gardens, Civic Centre) during the morning and afternoon peak hours. During these peak periods, buses will be operational between the Civic Centre and Gardens along a short-turning route (called Route 103a) to match the passenger demand along this section. The part of the route that runs through the residential area of Oranjezicht will still be served but there will be fewer buses, matching the passenger demand of this part of the route. Passengers travelling to Oranjezicht/Upper Kloof boarding the 103a bus must change to the 103 bus at the Gardens station.
  • As from 18 October 2014 and in accordance with the current passenger demand, the MyCiTi buses along Routes 106 and 107 will only operate between Camps Bay and the Civic Centre, cutting out the extension to the Waterfront Silo stop. The waiting times on these routes will be alleviated with additional bus trips during the peak hours (passengers heading for the Waterfront Silo stop can transfer to Route 104 at the Civic Centre station).
  • Also as from 18 October 2014, Routes 108 and 109 (Hout Bay, Imizamo Yethu, Hangberg, Sea Point and Civic Centre) will see significant changes in accordance with passenger demand. For example, buses on Route 108a will only operate between the Civic Centre via Sea Point to Queens Beach. Furthermore, the buses from Hout Bay will not stop at Queens Beach, but will continue to operate along Sea Point Main Road. Passengers wishing to make use of other routes connecting at the Queens Beach station can board and alight at the Tramway stop on Sea Point Main Road from where it is a short walk to the Queens Beach station. The Hout Bay Service will now terminate at the new Adderley Street station (to be operational as from 4 October 2014) and not the Civic Centre station.
An express service will be introduced on the very busy T01 trunk route to alleviate the traveling and waiting times during the morning and afternoon peak hours. Pending the delivery of the 18-metre buses, the express service will be operational within the next six months, providing a direct link between the following stations: Wood, Table View and Civic Centre. The express service will not stop at the in-between stations and as such passengers can expect reduced travel times of between seven and ten minutes during the peak-hour periods.
Pending the delivery of additional buses, the T02 – the trunk route between the Atlantis station, Table View and the Civic Centre – will be introduced during the first half of 2015, providing passengers with a direct route between Atlantis and the Cape Town central business district.
Furthermore, the roll-out of the second phase of the N2 Express service to the communities of Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha is still scheduled for the end of the year, pending the delivery of the fleet of 20 18-metre low-floor buses.

Cancellation of route 113

Route 113 along Ocean View Drive (Sea Point, Fresnaye, Three Anchor Bay) will be discontinued as from Monday 6 October 2014. The MyCiTi survey confirmed an extremely low passenger demand on this route, with approximately 80 passengers per weekday and virtually no demand during the inter-peak hours, after 20:00 or on weekends.

In addition to a R2,1 million cost saving per annum due to the route cancellation, the buses from this route will be redeployed to other MyCiTi routes where there is a higher passenger demand. Residents travelling to and from this area still have another option in Route 105 along High Level Road, meaning they will not be stranded once Route 113 has been cancelled.

‘We cannot provide a service in areas where there is an insufficient passenger demand. In fact, only 5,4% of the cost of running this specific route is being covered by the passenger fares and this is obviously unsustainable. As a responsible and caring city we must rather devote our limited resources to areas where residents flock to the stations and stops to make use of the MyCiTi service,’ said Councillor Herron.

Station kiosks

Kiosks at MyCiTi stations are often open for long hours and an analysis of the transactions (the number and value) confirmed that some kiosks are underutilised. As such, the kiosks at 13 MyCiTi stations will be closed as from Saturday 1 November 2014 because the transaction value at these stations is too low to justify keeping them open.

The closure of the kiosks at the following stations will result in an annual cost saving of over R5,6 million: Killarney, Paarden Eiland, Porterfield, Royal Ascot, Sunset Beach, Lagoon Beach, Potsdam, Section, Milnerton, Granger Bay, Grey, Janssens and Sandown.

The closure of these kiosks will not be too inconvenient as passengers can stop en route at any station where the kiosk is open to upload money and mover points onto their myconnect cards. In addition, MyCiTi passengers can also load money onto their myconnect cards at cash-accepting Absa ATMs, regardless of who they bank with. 

The operating times of the majority of the remaining kiosks will be adjusted in accordance with the peak hour periods, resulting in a further annual cost saving of nearly R2,2 million.

By this time next year, the whole of Phase 1 (including Phase 1a and 1b) should be fully rolled out and our planning focus will then shift to Phase 2 – a massive undertaking. It is essential to the long-term viability of the service, and to our plans to expand the service across the city over the next 20 years, that we manage our supply as best we can without over-providing, at huge costs, on routes where there is insufficient passenger demand.

‘All of these changes are intended to ensure the best optimisation of the resources at our disposal. Some of the revised timetables and routes will improve the MyCiTi service on the busiest routes, either through shorter waiting times during the morning and afternoon peak hours or in reducing the passengers’ traveling times. Where there are not enough passengers to justify buses at short intervals, fewer buses will be provided. We ask passengers to please familiarise themselves with the revised timetables and route changes that may affect them,’ said Councillor Herron.