MyCiTi route: WRRA’s main objections

This is the final version of the comments that WRRA sent to TCT, as part of the public participation process:

Comments to the City of Cape Town’s Transport Authority (TCT) on the proposed MyCiti route through Wynberg

Submitted on 30 July 2015 by: Wynberg Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (WRRA)
email wynbergresidents@gmail.com

The WRRA is in favour of a MyCiTi route through Wynberg, but not the proposed South Road/Brodie Road couplet, which we believe will benefit only private vehicles, not commuters, businesses, pedestrians or residents. Building new trunk roads through residential areas is contrary to the aim of creating more walkable and liveable cities.

No-one will benefit:

Commuters coming into Wynberg will have to travel an extra two kilometres to reach the transport interchange.

Businesses along Main Road will suffer. Recent studies show that one-way streets are bad for business, as they decrease exposure to storefronts. Vancouver proved that one-way streets should not be allowed in prime downtown retail areas.

Pedestrians will be at risk from faster-moving vehicles (one-way streets correlate with higher speeds and decreased levels of driver attention). Articulated buses are also five times more likely to be involved in pedestrian accidents than any other type of bus.

Residents will either lose their houses or the value of their investment will decrease, as a result of increased traffic volumes and pollution, commercial creep and associated crime and grime problems.

Cape Town will lose an important part of its heritage, as up to 100 properties will be affected and 100-year-old cottages will be demolished.

Furthermore, motorists will still be stuck in slow-moving traffic as (i) new roads quickly fill up, leaving congestion as bad as before [drive along Main Road in Rondebosh (where roads were widened) or Claremont – the congestion is as bad as in Wynberg.]; (ii) bottlenecks will simply move elsewhere along Main Road; and (iii) congestion along the Wetton Road east/west link will get worse with the addition of articulated buses.

There are alternatives that are more cost-effective and integrate with other public transport modes. It is not good use of public money to spend millions of rand on new roads (destroying integrated neighbourhoods) in order to save a few passengers from walking 100–500 metres.

The WRRA objects to the proposed South Road/Brodie Road couplet on the following grounds:

  1. The new roads will result in an unacceptable severance of the residential area, compete with the railway, create capacity constraints elsewhere along Main Road, and is opposed by the Wynberg community (represented by the WRRA, the OWVS and the WID). These reasons are the same used in the motivation for deproclaiming the original Wynberg bypass that would have cut through Maynardville Park.
  1. The Brodie Road couplet will be a second Main Road and result in a significant loss of residential fabric and increased commercial creep through established, well-functioning neighbourhoods. There will be more on-street parking, more petty crime, more taxis and informal traders, higher buildings, tighter driving in crammed streets. Changes in traffic volumes and circulation patterns will have a negative impact on businesses located along Main Road. Research shows that one-way streets result in faster-moving traffic (posing threats for pedestrians and motorist safety) and increased levels of exhaust, noise, and pollution. In fact, a key strategy to renewing downtown historic neighbourhoods is converting one-way to two-way streets.
  1. Important heritage areas will be destroyed. The proposed Brodie Road will result in half of Main Road’s normal traffic thundering through quiet residential areas day and night. Both the new South Road and the Brodie Road couplet will affect areas that the 2002 heritage study describe as having “intrinsic and above all a contextual significant, that must be recognised and preserved for future generations”. As one of the oldest suburbs in Cape Town, Wynberg also has a very old water/sanitation system dating back to the early 1900s. Heavy construction will not only affect the foundations of heritage houses but is likely to result in more problems with the water pipes: the underlying water pipes in Cogill, Egglestone, Benjamin and other roads are old, very fragile and burst regularly.
  1. The passenger numbers are questionable and do not justify spending millions of rand on building roads and demolishing houses. TCT claim that 1800 passengers will board and alight along the Wynberg section by 2030, but this number is based on modelling and a very small sample of commuters. TCT has got passengers numbers wrong for Phase 1, resulting in certain routes closing/changing. This could happen in Wynberg. TCT does not know how many of the passengers transfer onto other modes of transport (as opposed to walk to work in Wynberg). The proposed bus stops along the Brodie Road couplet are particularly illogical, as the few commuters are within easy walking of the station. It would make more sense for the BRT scheme to end at the public transport interchange, and to improve the interchange and the station to facilitate efficient pedestrian traffic to Main Road.
  1. Building new roads will encourage more private vehicle use, not make public transport more attractive. National government funding is intended for integrated public transport, not to build roads and purchase/demolish houses that stand in the way of the roads.
  1. The proposed route will not address the bottlenecks and east-west congestion. It will simply move the bottlenecks elsewhere and make congestion along the Wetton/Riverstone Road worse.
  1. The inclusion of the couplet is based on misinformation and part-truths. The couplet scheme was only approved after important amendments approved by the Protea Sub-Council were omitted from the report. The couplet scheme was 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 same studies used as justification for the MyCiTi route. This attempt failed and was strongly rejected by the entire community, a fact that does not appear to have been fully disclosed by the transport engineers.
  1. No proper cost-benefit analysis of the alternative routes has been done. The justification for choosing the South Road/Brodie Road couplet is based on plans that use research from the 1990s. Before spending millions of rands on building new roads and demolishing houses, it is imperative to assess the costs, benefits and impacts of the proposed route versus the other routes proposed by the WRRA and others, especially in view of the heritage value of Wynberg and the potential impact on Main Road businesses and an established residential area.
  1. The costs do not justify the end result. Taxpayers and ratepayers are already under pressure, in difficult economic times. It is neither efficient nor effective use of public money to spend millions on building roads for a bus route that will save a few people from walking 100m–350m from the transport interchange or catching a taxi/train to Wittebome Station. (Businesses are predominantly along Main Road, not in the residential area west of Main Road). The low passenger numbers do not justify spending R209-million on building new roads and will mean greater operating subsidies, which is unsustainable.
  1. We should be building houses, not demolishing properties in order to build a road that will serve an insignificant number of commuters. 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. We should be building houses that are within easy access of shops, workplaces, clinics, schools etc., not spend millions on building roads to perpetuate the apartheid-style busing in of people from peripheral areas.
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