I Sometimes Wonder…

Anyone who works in Cape Town and does the drive into town every morning will know that the traffic in rush hour is enough to make you go mad! The drive home is no fun either. There is nothing worse than getting to the outskirts, just where the M3 hits the suburbs and then hitting the stop-go.

I don’t actually work in town but have on occasion had to brave the rush hour traffic, and no matter how many times I do it I always get my hopes up driving up the free way that this time will be different, making it all the more disappointing when you do come to a stand still.

We have become a car culture, and it is a relatively new thing, but we are going to have to rethink this, oil is running out, and will therefore get more expensive. Imagine if you could save a fortune and not have to face the daily stress of driving to and from work in heavy traffic?

Do you have an alternative?

I for one am an advocate of the train, especially if you are going to a destination close to a station, but I also understand why so many people dismiss this as a form of transport. The train doesn’t link with a viable, reliable infrastructure, so if you don’t live within sight of a station, or work within a respectable distance at the other end, then you are going to spend more time and effort getting to the station as you will driving into town in the first place. Then there are the rush hour trains them selves. If you are traveling from Fish Hoek into town everything is fine until you get to Retreat, which is where the majority of commuters get on. At times the carriages are so full that it can get very claustrophobic, if not dangerous.

Another big problem with the trains is that of a negative image; the generally held view is that they are crime infested and dangerous to use.

This is why I sometimes wonder…

What prompted this post was a news story about the danger of overcrowding on some routes into Cape Town, particularly from the Cape Flats, and how Metro Rail has no more money for extra trains or personnel to ensure safety procedures are followed.

Am I the only one who can see what needs to be done here?

I should imagine that the costs are more to do with the operation of the trains as opposed to the provision of the rolling stock itself. Peak times see the rail service bursting at the seams, and yet you will have an entirely different experience at off peak times. Then, the can have a carriage to yourself, which is making you a more likely target of crime.

Does it not make sense to remove some of the service in the off peak timetable and use the resource when and where it is needed, at peak times on busy routes?

Also, is it not time for the city to consider integrating the public transport so that the train stations act as transport hubs, fed by bus services.

How to pay for this?

Invest some money in some TNT, strategically place this around the Green Point Stadium, and press the plunger, thus freeing up billions a year from the public purse. Goodbye white elephant, hello modern, forward thinking, clean and efficient transportation.

Imagine if we carry on as we are, with increasing traffic volumes and decreasing oil reserves. Our roads are already falling to pieces through overuse: repairing them is costing billions of rands. Why not think ahead and take the pressure of the road system?

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