South Africa sets aside $70m for new Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network

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South Africa’s eThekwini Municipality has set aside US$70m for the new Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network.The funds will also be used to replace old buses in the current fleet and will happen over a three year period.

A report tabled at a special executive committee meeting at the end of May addressed the pressing issue of Durban’s ageing buses. Plans were outlined to tender for a new bus fleet as part of the city’s replacement program and its Go!Durban service, which covers the route between Pinetown and Bridge City in KwaMashu.

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The report proposed to replace 150 buses over the next three years on an approved budget of approximately $25.4m to ensure that the ageing Durban transport fleet is replaced and to ensure the Go!Durban fleet is maintained. The municipality currently operates a fleet of 531 buses.

Furthermore, since the optimum life span of a bus stands at 10 years. The municipality would thus not be able to achieve a good residual value if these buses exceeded a 10 year life span. Currently, 128 buses have exceeded their optimum lifespan and already require major refurbishment which includes engine, gearbox and body work maintenance.

According to the municipality, an additional $60m was approved for 190 new buses over the next three years for the Go!Durban C3 service. The buses will be funded via the Public Transport Network Grant (PTNG) and in the form of a loan for which the loan repayments will be funded by the PTNG.

The report stated that the Go!Durban project was underway with infrastructure for the first corridor nearing completion. The eThekwini Transport Authority has planned to start with an interim operation by mid-2017 which will require approximately 30 buses to run on this trunk corridor.The buses need to comply with Universal Access standards, as a condition of the PTNG funding.

The municipality indicated that the newer fleets will comply with EURO4 and upward specifications which minimize carbon emissions, and will also have a lower fuel consumption which will result in significant fuel savings.

The Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network is thus aimed at positioning the municipality transport system as among the best in the world.