Ricochet News

Nelson Mandela Bay IPTS buses to finally hit the road end of October

By Afikile Lugunya - Oct 4, 2017
Nelson Mandela Bay IPTS buses to finally hit the road end of October

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, and the Member of the Mayoral Committee for Transport, Cllr Rano Kayser, on Tuesday hosted the launch of this year's Transport Month and also officially announced that the much-awaited Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS) will roll out before the end of the month after months of preparation.

This pilot project will service the Cleary Park - Port Elizabeth CBD route after the Metro reached agreements with the taxi associations operating on that route. 

The Nelson Mandela Bay’s IPTS is famously known as South Africa’s most expensive public transport bungle in any Metro after over R1 billion was allegedly thrown at the project - yet not a single bus has been on the road since the launch of the project in 2010. The Democratic Alliance (DA) led coalition vowed to get the system off the ground.

Several former taxi drivers have now undergone training for them to be able to drive the IPTS' Libongolethu buses. The buses can accommodate 35 people seated and 8 people standing. They are also wheelchair-friendly bus with special doors for the disabled and a space inside for their wheelchairs.

Speaking at the event, Executive Mayor Trollip highlighted how the City needs improved safety and an affordable way of transportation.

He said that to ensure the safety of commuters, there will be cameras installed inside the bus, but that also doesn’t guarantee total safety - as what happened at the Nelson Mandela University on Monday night when a female student was raped and another woman stabbed at the university's 2nd Avenue campus lab, which has CCTV cameras inside.

“We hope to run a professional service and we will run this rout in pick traffic to ensure that we are not guessing when we tell people about the time travelled from and to a certain place,” Trollip said.

These buses are expected to start operating by the end of the month and drivers are expected to receive their Code 14 driver’s licenses soon.

“As we roll the ITPS system, we are hoping that more people will make use of the system, we’ve started with the Cleary Park route because it is a straight route and there was space to build the bus depo from beginning to the end point,” the Mayor added

“We still need to negotiate with the taxi associates to get a lot done for primarily work."

The Metro will also focus on the Motherwell and Wells Estate routes as the main routes - including Uitenhage.

While the media, along with councillors and the Mayor used a Libongolethu bus and cars to get to from the Lillian Diedericks Building in the CBD to Cleary Park taxi rank, a cycling team of different ages travelled the route using their bicycles and arrived at the same time with the bus.

Trollip also said that they are working with SETA to train students to become part of the re-established IPTS system.

“These buses have been parked for seven years, so by the end of the month they must be working,” he said, before going to address taxi drivers at the taxi rank.

Some didn’t seem thrilled with the IPTS system as they believe that it is a way to destroy their business.

While Cllr Kayser over the past few months engaged with taxi associations on the route as well as the Metro announcing the training of former taxi drivers to drive the buses, a local taxi driver, Faried Schovell, told reporters that as taxi drivers they were not consulted.

“As taxi drivers, no one came and talked to us about this, we just hearing rumours that this IPTS thing will benefit us, but my question is how and when because no one is being trained here all these taxi drivers are still waiting for proper training.

“Without proper training my question is who will drive these taxis and when and where are they being trained?” Schovell asked.