STATEMENT BY THE CITY’S MAYORAL COMMITTEE MEMBER: TRANSPORT FOR CAPE TOWN, COUNCILLOR BRETT HERRON
City encouraged by interest in MyCiTi Lansdowne/Wetton Corridor at first public meeting in the south
Last night, 19 November 2014, the City of Cape Town hosted a constructive meeting with the community in Wynberg about Phase 2 of the MyCiTi service – dubbed the Lansdowne/Wetton Corridor.
Certain groups with vested interests tried to disrupt this important information session about a project that will eclipse all former public transport infrastructure projects embarked upon by the City of Cape Town. It became clear during the engagement that they are not necessarily opposed to the MyCiTi service being rolled out in Wynberg, but rather that their concerns revolve around certain aspects of the project.
We are, however, encouraged by those residents who attended with the sole purpose of finding out what the City has been planning. Some of them approached me after the meeting and privately endorsed the MyCiTi project because they realise that the benefits of Phase 2 go far beyond mobility. These residents appreciate the fact that the Lansdowne/Wetton Corridor will ignite the urban renewal of Wynberg and the adjacent suburbs; they realise that this project will create economic opportunities and attract development and private investment.
Last night we shared a concept plan with the community that is still at a very early stage in the planning process. We do not yet have all the answers, but we are committed to a proper process, in particular around the implementation of the road schemes in support of the project.
Once rolled out, the Lansdowne/Wetton Corridor will transform the lives of at least 1,4 million people living in the metro south-east and the southern suburbs, providing them with a direct, efficient and scheduled public transport service.
Broad overview of routes
There is currently no direct east-west rail link or trunk route between Wynberg and Claremont and the metro south-east. Furthermore, the demand for travel within the peak period in the southern quadrant of the city has surpassed the supply of public transport services, as well as the capacity of the current road infrastructure.
Those living around Wynberg and Claremont are well aware of the severe congestion along Main Road where the traffic at times moves at an average speed of less than 10 km/h in the morning peak hour. The impact of the congestion is also felt on the primary and secondary residential roads in the south due to the lack of streamlined, efficient public transport where the search for faster routes to work by private vehicles and minibus-taxis often results in rat races and speeding.
As stipulated in the City’s Integrated Public Transport Network (IPTN) plan that was approved by Council on 25 June 2014, the MyCiTi Lansdowne/Wetton Corridor will provide for the most critical ‘missing link’ between the metro south-east and the southern suburbs.
Broadly speaking, the trunk route from Khayelitsha will run along Japhta K Masemola Road (formerly known as Lansdowne Road) and the trunk route from Mitchells Plain along AZ Berman Drive. These two trunk routes will interconnect along Govan Mbeki Road and will then fork towards Wynberg along Strandfontein and Ottery Roads and towards Claremont along Jan Smuts Drive and Turfhall Road.
Importantly, a proposed couplet along Brodie and Main Roads in Wynberg will form an integral part of the Lansdowne/Wetton Corridor. A couplet is a set of one-way lanes in opposite directions – such as the couplet along Loop and Long Streets in the Cape Town central business district – to alleviate congestion and improve the flow of traffic.
Origin of the proposed Brodie/Main Road Couplet
According to the Wynberg CBD Urban Renewal Plan that was initiated by the then-South Peninsula Municipality in 1999, the Wynberg business district should form the core of a ‘well-managed, vibrant and sustainable regional centre, building upon its role as a metropolitan transport interchange and a thriving centre for small business’.
Some of the key features of this Urban Renewal Plan are still relevant today, 15 years later: to optimise the functioning of key areas such as the Wynberg public transport interchange; to promote public transport and a pedestrian-friendly environment; to reduce traffic congestion and to find some form of relief road that will have the least intrusive impact on Wynberg’s historic village character.
The Urban Renewal Plan and a complementary economic analysis at the time, recognised the ‘serious economic decline’ that had occurred in Wynberg by 1999.
The Brodie/Main Road Couplet was developed in 2002 in response to these reports and during an extensive investigation into resolving the transport challenges in the Wynberg CBD. In fact, this couplet has been confirmed as a key element to the regeneration of the Wynberg CBD.
The proposed couplet was not implemented at the time and since then the degeneration in Wynberg has continued, causing a discernible change in the retail activities and the character of the Wynberg CBD. This degeneration in large can been attributed to the transport challenges (lack of infrastructure, poor public transport and congestion) and the uncertainty caused by the Main Road Widening and Wynberg Bypass Schemes that were approved nearly 60 years ago.
It is nearly 13 years later and the proposed couplet still offers the best available and less intrusive long-term solution to the revitalisation of the Wynberg CBD. It meets the competing demands of public and private traffic and pedestrians. Furthermore, the couplet will enable much needed social and economic improvement in the Wynberg CBD while at the same time preserving its unique historical fabric. The Brodie/Main Road Couplet is much more than a road scheme: it is an unprecedented transport solution to ignite the urban renewal of the Wynberg CBD.
It is the City’s intention to replace the current Wynberg Bypass Scheme with the Brodie/Main Road Couplet. The proposed couplet will double the traffic capacity through Wynberg, enabling the MyCiTi service and other road users to move through this area at a more efficient speed during the peak traffic periods. The couplet will also increase access to this area that has seen very little investment the past two decades because of a lack of transport access, poor public transport and serious congestion.
With more feet and movement in Wynberg, trade in the CBD will increase, as will new developments and job creation which, finally, will lead to the much needed urban renewal.
The benefits of the proposed Brodie/Main Road Couplet
- Unlike the Wynberg Bypass Scheme, the couplet will not remove passing trade from Main Road.
- The couplet (two lanes wide) is half the width of the current Wynberg Bypass Scheme (four lanes wide).
- The couplet will preserve the historic fabric of the area, in particular the historical buildings along Main Road, as its footprint is significantly smaller than that of the Wynberg Bypass Scheme.
- The Wynberg Bypass Scheme would lead to the destruction of at least seven historic buildings, encroach on the library and segregate this building and the associated parking areas from the core of the Wynberg CBD.
- The couplet will not affect the historic cottage areas of Wynberg as none of these cottages will be demolished.
- The couplet is an innovative solution to double the traffic capacity in the Wynberg CBD. The same solution has been successfully implemented in the Cape Town CBD with the Loop/Long Street Couplet, as well as in Durbanville with the Durban Road/Willie van Schoor Couplet.
- A couplet will improve the flow of traffic and reduces delays for turning vehicles; furthermore road users will be able to park on both sides of the road.
- The couplet will improve pedestrian safety as pedestrians will face traffic that is coming from one direction only.
- Currently the commercial activities are centred on Main Road, but the couplet will increase the width of the commercial strip to include the whole area between Brodie and Main Roads.
- The value of the property falling within this commercial strip will most likely increase, as was the case in Sea Point with the roll-out of the MyCiTi service to that area.
- The couplet is technically feasible and it can accommodate future traffic needs.
South Road is a proclaimed road scheme that has been in existence for 20 years. The 26 tenants, who are currently residing in houses that are owned by the City, were aware of the fact that these houses fall within a road scheme and that the City would demolish these properties sometime in the future.
As such, the tenants have been served with termination of lease notices four months in advance, informing them that they have to vacate the properties by 31 January 2015.
A new dual carriageway will be built to the south of the existing South Road between the M5 freeway and Main Road, passing underneath the Southern Suburbs railway line just south of Wittebome Rail Station.
Why this route alignment
In deciding along which roads the MyCiTi trunk routes will operate, the City has taken into account the existing rail lines, stations (such as Wittebome and Wynberg) and the very important regional public transport interchange (Wynberg) in the south, and how the bus rapid transit (BRT or dedicated red bus lanes) can complement the rail network. The City has also considered the future MyCiTi trunk routes that are planned for this area, such as a north/south trunk route travelling from Strandfontein Road into the Cape Town CBD.
As such, the trunk routes in Wynberg and Claremont should not only complement the existing rail network, but should also provide for future transfers in terms of the long-term linkages of the MyCiTi network.
Other essential criteria are applied for BRT, such as: the intersections along the road should be a reasonable space apart – at least 600 m – to ensure that the buses can travel at an efficient speed; the adjacent land use and densities must support BRT – thus ensuring transit-oriented development; and there must be available space to provide for a separate dedicated red bus lane.
Taking into consideration the above principles, Wetton Road and Rosmead Avenue were found not to be suitable for a trunk route. However, MyCiTi feeder services will be operational along these roads, supplementing the trunk services along South and Chichester Roads.
The alignment of the trunk route along Jan Smuts Drive and Turfhall Road towards Claremont provides for a more direct and quick service to this area. Furthermore the alignment of the trunk route along Ottery Road towards Wynberg, supports the City’s approved transit-oriented development policy decision as there are ample opportunities for development along Ottery Road, ensuring the long-term sustainability of the MyCiTi service.
A detailed design of the Lansdowne/Wetton Corridor, coupled with a community engagement process, will result in the finalisation of the locations of the MyCiTi stations and stops. It is expected that construction will commence during the middle part of next year, with the two prioritised sites being Stock Road in Philippi and Strandfontein Road in Ottery.
If everything works out according to plan, we will launch the Lansdowne/Wetton Corridor in 2020. Admittedly, this will require an immense effort, some sacrifices and the will to work together in finding solutions and to reaching agreements. Each one of us – from the City, in its coordination and project management role through Transport for Cape Town, and the National Government in providing the funds needed for this massive project; to the contractors; the role-players in the public transport industry; to our residents – has to contribute if we want to succeed in building this corridor which is to become a monument to access, opportunity and urban renewal.
Issued by: Integrated Strategic Communication, Marketing and Branding Department, City of Cape Town
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