City allocates millions for transport upgrades

The City has plans to spend R8.5 million on public transport upgrades in the southern suburbs over the next three years.

Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport, says the plan includes upgrades to the MyCiTi routes but not the disputed plans for the Wynberg route, which are on hold pending a court ruling.

“The City has budgeted R8.5 million for upgrades to the Wynberg public transport interchange over the next three financial years, pending the outcome of the final court ruling relating to the alignment of route T11 of Phase 2A of the MyCiTi service to Wynberg,” said Mr Herron.

The council has approved a portion of the T11 route from Khayelitsha to the intersection of Strandfontein Road and New Ottery Road in Ottery.

“Transport for Cape Town (TCT), the City’s transport authority, is now busy with the detail design process along the proposed route alignments. The conceptual design that was approved by council does not include the Wynberg section as this part of Phase 2A of the MyCiTi service is subject to a final court ruling,” Mr Heron said.

“While this budget is not for MyCiTi-specific improvements only, the upgrading will take into account the requirements that may be needed if the roll-out of the service does include Wynberg. As such, no work can continue on the design or any other aspect of the Wynberg public transport interchange – including the upgrading of the existing bus and minibus-taxi facilities – until the court has made a final ruling.”

The Wynberg route has been a point of contention since 2002. The Wynberg Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (WRRA) are opposed to the route because it cuts through “historical Wynberg” (“Houses on MyCiTi route demolished,” Bulletin, January 15).

Kristina Davidson, of the WRRA, said the association was not opposed to the MyCiTi service but rather the City’s planned Wynberg route, which “makes no sense in terms of integrated public transport”.

“In fact it runs parallel to existing transport modes, which is contrary to the principles of integrated public transport. It would also mean Main Road becomes one-way for about a kilometre, which would be the death knell of many established businesses, and is why the Wynberg Improvement District also opposes the proposed route through Wynberg,” Ms Davidson said.

“Alternative routes exist that would not require over 40 properties, including 100-year old cottages, to be demolished and that connect directly to the public transport interchange.

“The WRRA has said all along that instead of building apartheid-era roads – which will not alleviate congestion, because more roads only result in more traffic – the money would be better used to upgrade the existing transport interchanges in east and west Wynberg.”

The WRRA challenged in court the original MyCiTi route plan because the tender “closed about nine months before any public participation process”, Ms Davidson said.

“The judge ordered the City to conduct meaningful public participation and to properly investigate the alternative routes put forward by the Wynberg community. Despite losing twice – the court case and the subsequent appeal – the City plans to appeal to a higher court,” Ms Davidson said.

The WRRA has closely scrutinised the City’s latest budget and Ms Davidson says: “The funds earmarked for the transport hub are not part of the MyCiTi plan – the public transport interchange is not connected to the MyCiTi route shown in the original MyCiTi tender. How the City can be planning an integrated public transport network without including Wynberg public transport interchange is beyond us!”

Nevertheless, the WRRA supports the City’s budget as it currently stands.

“We welcome the budget allocated to the transport interchange, as it dovetails completely with the alternatives proposed by the WRRA,” Ms Davidson said.

Rawson Properties has backed the MyCiTi route, saying it will bring improvements to the CBD, which it claims is the “single largest factor preventing Wynberg real estate from reaching its full potential”.

“The general deterioration surrounding Wynberg’s commercial district and the existing public transport depot has always been a huge hurdle,” said Leon Breytenbach, national manager of the Rawson Property Group’s commercial division, “and not just because of the unfortunate crime that it brings. The environment affects the tenant mix, which is predominantly secondary retail and low-cost fast food at present. These aren’t the most stable or profitable tenants to have and don’t really encourage property development or new commercial investors.”