Rustenburg Rapid Transport: ‘It’s not only about the bus’

Rustenburg Rapid Transport (RRT) is leading the way in managing mobility and congestion within a medium-city context, by paying careful attention to the needs of all road users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, public transport riders and motorists.

As Gail Jennings, non-motorist transport consultant for RRT, told delegates at the ITSSA Urban Mobility and Congestion Management workshop last week, RRT is ‘not only about the bus…’

‘We like to say that although RRT does include a 40km BRT route and stations, it is that word “include” that’s important,’ says Jennings. ‘Public infrastructure-spend on a project such as this needs to achieve the maximum advantages for the city and the region. So learning from the systems currently in operation or construction, such as MyCiTi (Cape Town) and Rea Vaya (JHB), RRT has taken a holistic, multi-measured approach to urban mobility and congestion management.

‘We aim create less congestion, and a more mobile, more permeable city with emphasis on improved universal design and non-motorised access,’ she explains. ‘The goal is the transformation of public movement space to better serve the needs of everyone – whether existing or potential users.’

In Rustenburg, one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the country, more than half of the 500 000 residents work on the platinum mines. 83% of people rely on public transport or non-motorised transport (walking or cycling). In 2007, the city was identified as one of 12 cities that would benefit from an Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network (IRPTN), and in 2011 the Rustenburg Rapid Transport  (RRT) project was launched. Two trunk routes will link the settlements of Phokeng and Kanana to the Rustenburg Central Business District (CBD), with multiple feeder and direct routes, with 32 main stations and 500 other stops.

But because of its mining and regional status, mobility patterns within Rustenburg are different to those of other cities set to benefit from Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). Shift workers, for example, need off-peak as well as very early morning services. There is thriving informal trader network, where entrepreneurs are determined to provide goods to commuters at origin. And as the major destination centre within this agricultural and rural area, mobility options need to cater for the importance of Friday shopping days – with sidewalk space, shade, and opportunities to rest within the CBD all stretched beyond capacity.

So while other speakers at the workshop discussed technology-based congestion management options – such as in-vehicle GPS devices, mobile applications and traffic management centres – Jennings reminded delegates of the importance of taking ‘low-tech’ solutions seriously: improved cyclist and pedestrian mobility, parking management, and urban green space.

‘Our research has clearly indicated that RRT’s bus system is unlikely to replace walking and cycling. Quite the opposite, in fact – better public transport, universal design and reduced public parking usually generates more non-motorised transport. We need to plan for this, and encourage more of this lowest-carbon mobility.’

RRT will therefore integrate the bus system with the urban environment and encourage walking and cycling movement as part of the improved system. For example, in addition to landscaping and greening around each bus station, the project will deliver a regeneration strategy for central city, locate two potential sites for mixed-use development, identify pedestrian priority streets and construct bicycle lanes.

‘There’s no doubt that this public investment in streets, sidewalks, parks and open spaces, will enhance and encourage private investment,’ says Marks Rapoo, RRT Project Director. ‘Improved public health, increased local property values, emissions reductions, and more money circulating in the local economy are simply some of the benefits of this holistic approach to mobility and congestion.’

The Urban Mobility and Congestion Management Workshop was hosted by the ITS South Africa Centre of Excellence at The Innovation Hub in Pretoria on 19 June 2012.  Other speakers MEC for Roads and Transport in Gauteng, MEC Ismail Vadi; Strategic Executive Director: Transport at the City of Tshwane, Ms Lungile Madlala; and Director, Transport, City of Cape Town, Ms Maddie Mazaza.

ENDS

The Rustenburg Local Municipality was established by Government Notice No 316 of 2000 in terms of section 12(1) of the Municipal Structures Act of 1998 after the disestablishment of the three municipalities of Marikana, Monnakato and Rustenburg. It is one of the fastest growing cities in the country with a current estimated population of over 500,000 residents, and an area of jurisdiction covering approximately 3 500 km² over 38 wards. The Rustenburg Rapid Transport project is due to launch in 2015 and will service 200,000 Rustenburg Municipality passengers daily through an integrated transport network that will include BRT trunk corridors, direct routes and feeder services.

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