MyCiTi route: TCT replies to questions from Wynberg residents

As part of the public participation process on the proposed new South Road and Brodie Road couplet, Transport for Cape Town (TCT)  replied to residents’ questions in writing.

cartoon of bus

The answers below are to the most pertinent questions from residents and have been simplified and shortened. Where the WRRA thought it necessary, we provided our perspective to the replies.

The full Q & A can be found here.

The full comment by the WRRA can be found here

Passenger numbers

1. How many passengers per day will get on and off a MyCiTi bus on the Brodie Road part of the proposed route?

  •  A total of  1 317 passengers will be in the buses when they reach Main Road and Brodie Road.
  • 1 800 passengers will board and alight in Brodie Road in the morning peak hour. These figures are not final and depend on the finalisation of the feeder routes and where the stops will be. The volumes will be amended as changes to the network are finalised
  • The figures depicted in the answer are based on a demand model analysis of the full IPTN network at 2032.

WRRA comments: The projected passenger numbers are for 2032 and are questionable, especially considering that projection on the other MyCiTi routes were incorrect and resulted in certain routes/bus stops being closed. TCT is unable to to say how many of the passengers transfer onto other modes of transport.

2. Are you sure there will be enough passengers? The taxi industry says they don’t pick up or deliver passengers in this area of Wynberg because of a lack of demand.

Our plan is to cater to both taxi users and private car users, as well as to people who don’t use taxis because they prefer an uninterrupted route. Therefore taxis’ input is only part of the picture.

WRRA comments: This statement supports what we have been arguing all along, that the MyCiTi is being used as an excuse to build new roads using national government funds intended for integrated public transport.

3. What is the justification for building a complete new road at great cost to taxpayers and residents in the area?

The plan is to improve travel conditions along Main Road. This will benefit  public and private transport users  and  make Wynberg more attractive to investors, thereby uplifting the suburb. The couplet scheme was approved because it will improve traffic conditions without the need to widen Main Road or affect its character, while still keeping pass-by traffic in Wynberg CBD (important for the businesses in the area) and ensure that public transport users [coming into Wynberg] have easy access to high-quality services.

WRRA comments: TCT is not telling the whole truth, which is that the important amendments approved by the Protea Sub-Council were omitted from the report which went before full Council. Although this was challenged immediately afterwards and on several subsequent occasions as being ultra vires, no corrective action was ever initiated by the city’s transport engineers, who continue to insist that the scheme was properly approved. The Protea Sub-Council resolution was supported by councillors of all political parties and by the communities. It will not make Wynberg more atractive to investors, as internationally, one-way streets have been found to have a detrimental effect on businesses and neighbourhoods and the trend is to turn them back into two-way streets.

4. How did the City establish that most commuters along the route prefer to come to Wynberg rather than for instance Century City, Rondebosch or the CBD?

  • Feeder bus routes from surrounding suburbs – up to so far as Rondebosch – into Wynberg will be established. [In other words, passengers will be able to take a MyCiTi feeder bus from Rondebosch or Newlands to Wynberg along a feeder route, and from there to the Cape Flats along a trunk route.]
  • There are already a lot of transport options into the CBD.  But the east-west corridor – between Wynberg and the southeast – is poorly served. That is why we decided to focus on these needs next.

WRRA comments: The CBD already has a plethora of public transport options. In terms of integrated public transport, the MyCiTi will never run along Main Road because it would be competing with the existing railway, so where would the feeder routes be? Furthermore, the proposed link to the transport interchange along Wetton Road will make that east-west link even more congested than it is now. (This link was only included after we asked repeatedly why the MyCiTi did not connect with the transport interchange.)

Expected impact of new roads

1. Was a cost-benefit analysis done to compare the critical mass (i.e. the number of passengers that will get on and off on Brodie Road) versus the impact the development will have on the fabric and history of Wynberg as a suburb?

TCT answered this question by referring us to several documents comprising hundreds of pages. We will try to summarise them for you in time.

WRRA comments: TCT has provided no evidence in any of the documents that a proper cost-benefit analysis has been done. Before spending millions of rands on building new roads and demolishing houses, it seems more than reasonable to assess the costs, benefits and impacts of the proposed route and alternatives. It should also be noted that the documents referred to are out-of-date (based on research from the 1990s!), did not go through any public participation process, and disregard developments since 2000 (e.g. establishment of the WID). 

2. What is the City’s view with regard to the heritage cottages that will be affected by the couplet? The effect of vibration on these old homes coming from the new road is of concern to residents in Victorian cottages.

  • The City has heritage reports from 1999 and 2002. A more updated heritage survey is currently being conducted and will eventually form part of due process going forward.
  • Construction companies will be obliged to control heavy construction equipment in the vicinity of heritage buildings to ensure that vibration is kept within acceptable limits.

WRRA comments: The 2002 heritage study referred to states that areas in south Wynberg and to the north of Broad Road  have “intrinsic and above all a contextual significant, that must be recognised and preserved for future generations [and] their proximity to other significant Heritage sites must be taken into account”. This in itself would suggest that a proper assessment should be carried out before including new roads in any plan. Also, Wynberg has a water/sanitation system dating back to the early 1900s and the underlying water pipes are old, fragile and burst regularly.

3. How is the City planning to handle commercial creep and possible commercial rezoning of properties in the vicinity of the couplet?

Commercial creep and the associated rezoning of some of the properties is likely. Due process will be followed with respect to the rezoning of properties.

WRRA comments: In other words, Wynberg will become commercial and lose most of its residential fabric close to Main Road. In terms of the Cape Town Densification Policy, the Brodie Road couplet, as a public transport route, will make it possible for developers to apply for rezoning to increase the maximum height of the currently zoned GR2 (general residential 2, which allows for a maximum height of 15m i.e. about three storeys).

4. It is a known fact that the biggest crime problem in Wynberg is on Main Road. The proposed couplet will act as a second Main Road. Has any study been done to assess whether there will be an increase of crime and crime creep into the suburb? What plan does the City have in place to prevent the increase in crime as a result of the Brodie Road couplet?

The City will improve pedestrian facilities, street furniture, landscaping and lighting in the area. The project will attract investment to the area, resulting in urban revitalisation – this should decrease the incidence of criminal activity.

WRRA comments: This doesn’t answer the question. No study has been done to assess the impact of the road, other than from a narrow transport perspective. Main Road, from Cape Town to Simonstown, suffers from similar crime issues – adding benches will not stop crime! As mentioned above, one-way streets have a detrimental effect on businesses and neighbourhoods and the trend is to turn them back into two-way streets. 

5. Stretches of road that carry heavy public transport are magnets for informal traders and sometimes drug dealing and prostitution problems. Will this be allowed by the City on the couplet? Again, what measures will the City take to control such developments?

Public transport and associated informal trading is already there due to taxi and rail operations. MyCiTi will therefore not add to this problem but will provide the scope to change and improve the public environment.

WRRA comments: This is not true. No public transport or informal trading occurs along South Road or the proposed Brodie couplet, which are totally residential areas.

Costs

1.  How much will the MyCiTi cost to subsidise, compared to minibus taxis, Golden Arrow buses and trains?

The City has resolved to limit its contribution to no more than 4% of rates income.

WRRA comments: This does not answer our question but in 2015/16 Golden Arrow received about R796-million in subsidies for services supplied in the area of the City of Cape Town. In 2015/16, the expected deficit for existing MyCiTi services is R52-million (http://www.iol.co.za/business/news/myciti-faces-r52m-deficit-1.1834748#.VbDDifmo3GM).

2. How much will the new South Road and Brodie Road couplet cost?

Estimated costs:
South Road: R146-million
Brodie Road couplet: R63-million

WRRA comments: Assuming the projected user figures are accurate (which we doubt), the plan will save a small number of people from walking 100–350m from the transport interchange or catching a taxi/train to Wittebome Station. (Businesses are found predominantly along Main Road, not in the residential areas west of Main Road.)

Buses

1. What will the expected average speed of the bus be along the South Road and Brodie Road couplet sections?

South Road:  25-30km/h because of dedicated lanes, including stopping at stations and intersections.
Brodie Road couplet: 15-20km/h because more bus stops than South Road and mixed traffic.

WRRA comments: The bus stops will attract taxis competing to pick up customers connecting to Claremont, Wetton, Constantia etc., with the potential of bring taxi violence into residential areas.

2. What types of buses will be used?

Two types: 18 m articulated buses and 12 m low-entry buses.

WRRA comments: Internationally articulated (“bendy”) buses have been scrapped in many cities. Swansea found that having a one-way road system with bendy buses ‘ruined the town’.  The Mayor of London got rid of bendy buses because they can’t make tight turns, jam up busy streets and are involved in five times more pedestrian accidents than any other buses. 

Purchasing and demolishing of properties

1. How many private properties does the City still have to purchase along the South Road and Brodie Road couplet respectively, and what costing model will be used? How many properties in total will have to be demolished to make way for the road? What is the projected cost of purchasing and demolishing all these properties?

About 79 properties along South Road and 18 properties along the couplet will be affected by the corridor road construction, either in full or in part. Of these properties 69 are Council-owned of which 28 are vacant.

WRRA comments: The other questions were not answered. The idea of evicting people and demolishing so many well-built and (in many cases) heritage properties is shameful, especially given the housing shortage facing the city and the lack of well-located land.

2. Where is the money coming from to purchase private properties and then demolish them?

National Government.

WRRA comments: The conditions of the Public Transport Infrastructure Grant do not cover the costs of buying and demolishing properties.

3. What happens if the private owners of properties do not want to sell?

The City has not had a case before where someone takes an in-principle decision not to sell their property to the City. The decision to sell is based on price. Negotiations can be drawn out as the parties endeavour to convince each other that their asking price and offering price are fair.

WRRA comments: The City has not engaged with any of the affected property owners along the Brodie Road couplet. In fact, certain owners were unaware of the proposals until the WRRA informed them.

4. Will The Haven night shelter be demolished?

No, not according to the latest conceptual design.

WRRA comments: But the Haven will be affected by having a busy road run alongside it. With the rezoning associated with a new road, it is highly likely that the Haven will have to move or close down and put more homeless people back on the streets.

Traffic issues

1. Would it not be better for the MyCiTi buses to go direct to the Wynberg Integrated Public Transport Interchange? There, passengers who do not switch to Metrorail for north/south destinations could switch to smaller feeder buses and/or taxis to disperse to destinations within Wynberg and further east to Constantia, Hout Bay, etc.

Many passengers would find that inconvenient as it would entail an extra wait and significant detour. Large numbers of feeder buses will be forced to terminate their routes in what is already a highly trafficked area.

WRRA comments: This doesn’t make sense as Main Road is only 100 m from the transport interchange and the Brodie Road couplet just 350 m away. The new road will be built to benefit a handful of users who are already within easy walking distance from the station and public transport interchange to their workplaces. It would be quicker to walk than to wait for a bus!

2. What will be the impact on traffic at the major intersection at the top of Brodie Road, turning right towards Main Road? What will be the impact on school traffic?

The intersection of Brodie and Riverstone will undergo significant changes to form a gyratory around which traffic can flow freely. School traffic is likely to benefit from improved traffic conditions.

WRRA comments: Yet elsewhere, the TCT says that this section still needs to be investigated. It is already difficult to turn from Brodie Road into Riverstone Road, which cannot be widened because of existing apartments blocks, and adding MyCiTi 18m buses will not improve traffic flow. The route will not stop rat-running through residential areas.

3. Will taxis and Golden Arrow buses also be able to use the couplet and MyCiTi stops on the couplet?

Taxis and Golden Arrow buses serving areas outside the corridor will be able to use the couplet, but will gradually be phased out. Currently they are not allowed to use the MyCiTi stops.

WRRA comments: The City has said in the press that they are looking at a hybrid system whereby minibus taxis will use MyCiTi routes at certain times. Yet the City is unable to prevent the proliferation of illegal taxis along existing routes. The new road will enable still more taxis to run through Wynberg.

Brodie Road couplet

1. Why was the couplet scheme shelved in 2002? Since 2002, what public participation/input/comments have happened?
The couplet scheme was approved in 2002. The current Lansdowne-Wetton Corridor (IRT Phase 2A) Concept Design public participation process includes the already approved couplet scheme.

WRRA comments: The couplet scheme was first proposed as a last-ditch attempt to resolve concerns of the Wynberg community (residents and business, East Wynberg and West Wynberg) relating to the 1999–2002 traffic studies. The attempt failed and the couplet scheme was strongly rejected by the entire community. The entire process relating to this project is fundamentally flawed.

2. What is the destination of the MyCiTi passengers along the Brodie Road couplet? Residential Wynberg contains no economic opportunities – businesses are found along Main Road and are easily accessible from the existing transport interchange (about 350m from station to Main Road and another 100m to the proposed couplet).

People getting off the bus along Brodie Road will either transfer to one of the feeder services heading to Hout Bay, Plumstead and Retreat,  Harfield and Kenilworth, Constantia, Newlands and deeper into Wynberg, or will walk.

WRRA comments: The biggest concern here are the feeder services – where will they run, and what impact will they have on the narrow roads and heritage buildings in Wynberg? The purpose of a transport interchange is to enable commuters to transfer to other public transport modes.

3. How many roads intersect the 1 km couplet? How many traffic lights will be along the couplet? (At present there are four traffic lights along that stretch of Main Road.)

Traffic signals currently being considered are as follows:

  • Brodie/Riverstone, Brodie/Church
  • Main/Wetton, Main/Church, Main/Piers, Main/Rockley
  • There will be traffic lights on Brodie Road but they will have simplified phasing  because they will only have to accommodate traffic in one direction on Brodie Road itself. This means more green time for cars travelling along Brodie Road itself (as opposed to cars turning into Brodie Road).

WRRA comments: No tudy has been done to assess the impact on adjacent areas, e.g. the Old Wynberg Village, of the changes in traffic flow (assuming that people stick to the one-way system). Changes in traffic volumes and circulation patterns will have a negative impact on businesses and endanger the many pedestrians to schools, library, Victoria Hospital, courts etc.

4. Why haven’t other parts of the Main Road been made into one-way couplets?

The couplet is specific to Wynberg because of its specific traffic problems, geometric constraints and opportunities, and the planned introduction of the MyCiTi services into the area.

WRRA comments: The couplet was only introduced as a concept only and opposed by the entire community (residents and business). Other stretches of Main Road have similar traffic issues.

Post-public participation process

1.  When will the reports be shared with the community?

After the completion of the public participation process, a report will be submitted to Council. This will be available to interested parties.

WRRA comments: This does not tell us whether any of our comments will be taken into account and, judging from other recent public participation processes (e.g. with regards to planning decisions), it is unlikely that TCT will change its plans.

2. When is construction expected to start, and where? How long will it take?

The first of the main construction works will not commence before 2016. The sequence of construction has not been decided upon yet. Preliminary indications are that construction will not be completed before the end of 2020.

WRRA comments: This of course assumes that (1) the funding is available and (2) the City can acquire the necessary properties and permissions from (e.g.) heritage authorities.

3. Who are the construction companies and the demolition companies?

Besides the appointment of construction companies for the preliminary civil works along Strandfontein and Stock Roads where Martin and East is the contractor, the procurement of construction companies has not yet commenced. That will only happen once the necessary approvals are in place.

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