Partnering for integration

Gautrain's role in public transport integration

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The Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) manages the Gautrain service and promotes the integration of the Gautrain with other public transport services. The Gautrain service connects three metropolitan areas and the economic nodes of the Gauteng Province. The provision of a feeder and distribution service is a key element in supporting the rail network and providing an interface into the existing or planned public transport network to enhance the use of public transport and support the economic activities of commuters.

To promote the development of such a network, Gautrain established partnerships with Gauteng’s taxi industry in order to fulfil the need for an integrated public transport network in the Province, as described in the Gauteng Integrated Transport Master Plan 2025.

The idea of forming a partnership with the taxi industry was explored and has now developed into a fully functional model that sees the integration of the taxi industry through the provision of a scheduled feeder distribution service, also referred to as midibuses, is founded on the following three principles:

  • Formalise participating taxi operators into a sustainable business;
  • Provide a scheduled, safe and reliable public transport service; and
  • Create employment opportunities.

This integration corresponds with Gautrain’s overall vision to provide an integrated, innovative and efficient public transport system that promotes socio-economic growth in Gauteng. This can be realised through a viable transport system that:

  • Adds value to all South Africans through a world class train service;
  • Effectively integrates with the community;
  • Integrates with and complements other transport systems and operators;
  • Maximises income by making optimal use of available train capacity; and
  • Acts as a catalyst for spatial investment within Gauteng’s urban centres.

The taxi midibus partnership model was developed in 2011, with the objective of providing a service from the Gautrain’s Marlboro station to Linbro Business Park. Through an innovative contracting model, a partnership was formed with the taxi association operating in this service area.

The relevant parties developed and agreed upon a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to formalise the partnership and outline each party’s roles and responsibilities.

In terms of the agreed SLA, the parties committed to co-operate in providing a scheduled feeder and distributing service between Marlboro Station and Linbro Business Park in Sandton.

In this way, the SLA allowed Alexandra Transport Solutions to exploit the business opportunities created by the construction of the Gautrain’s Marlboro Station in the area.

In return, the Gautrain would benefit from additional passengers attracted from a market that would otherwise have remained un-serviced, since the forecasted demand for such a service did not warrant a Gautrain bus service. This is a true win-win scenario, as commuters from all over the Gautrain catchment area would now be able to commute to their place of work in Linbro Business Park using a safe, reliable and scheduled public transport service. The SLA covered the following aspects:

  • Branding
  • Operating times
  • Passenger insurance
  • Tickets
  • Monitoring.

The GMA has developed a contracting model that is a frontrunner in enabling the taxi industry to access subsidies that will transform the transport industry. The model is based on the number of passengers with a set profit level, which allows for the reduction of operational subsidies. This service is also contracted with local taxi associations, which allows the integration of the taxi industry with the Gautrain and the mainstream public transport.

The components outlined above are used to measure the operational efficiency of the service and to ensure that commuters have access to a safe and reliable public transport service. The vehicles used in the operation of the midibuses are owned by the GMA, branded in Gautrain colours to enhance the commuter experience and have a similar look and feel as the Gautrain trains.

Since the Gautrain system is operated in a concession environment, the management of the midibus operations is administered by the Bombela Concession Company , Gautrain’s Concessionaire. The GMA facilitates the planning and stakeholder consultation and provides oversight on the performance of the services.

Due to the success of the partnership model, the GMA has expanded these services from Gautrain Sandton, Centurion and Hatfield Stations, and additional services are on a planned rollout for other Gautrain stations. The public transport services provided through the midibuses are an extension of the Gautrain system and provide the same level of service as the trains and the buses.

This initiative shows that services of the Gautrain can be effectively synergised with local transport associations or establishments. In doing so, they can provide scheduled, dependable, safe, comfortable, friendly and professional end-to-end transport services. Other benefits include:

Environmental Sustainability – the midibus model alleviates the “first and last mile challenge” and encourages more passengers to use public transport instead of private vehicles. The GMA has seen an increase in the number of passengers using the midibuses and, by extension, the train system. Currently, approximately 20 000 passengers make use of midibuses on a monthly basis at various stations. This has contributed to the reduction of carbon emissions and congestion on provincial roads caused by private vehicles.

  • Economic Impact – the GMA ensured that the proposed services were financially viable to benefit the taxi operators and contribute to the creation of sustainable jobs to low-income households.
  • Social Responsibility – the communities where the midibuses operate also benefit in the following ways:
  1. Economic empowerment for the taxi industry
  2. A safe public transport system
  3. Less congestion on the roads
  4. Reduced stress levels
  5. Reduced carbon emissions
  6. Improved health
  7. Improved employment opportunities
  8. An integrated transport network

Transformation and job creation – the midibus partnership model has afforded the taxi industry a platform to establish and develop sustainable businesses to develop skills in improving the operational efficiency of public transport, and to manage revenues and operational costs.

In February 2017, the GMA received a Gauteng Premier Service Excellence Award in recognition of the midibus partnership and its contribution to the economy and promotion of inclusive economic growth in the Province. Integrated transport systems remain a long-term solution to the traffic congestion problems experienced in Gauteng’s highly developed and densely populated areas.

The Province’s 25-year integrated transport master plan sights rail as a backbone of such a system, stating, “Rail transport is considered appropriate on the main high-density corridors where it can contribute to the spatial form and provide mass transport services”. However, other forms of transport such as buses, minibuses and taxis are needed to support the rail system for the successful implementation of an integrated transport system.

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