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2008-09-10: City signs MOU with Metrobus and Putco on Rea Vaya BRT Project

THE City of Johannesburg today (10 September 2008) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City's key bus operators, Johannesburg Metropolitan Bus Services (Metrobus) and Putco, setting up a consultative and engagement framework for the planning, design and implementation of Phase 1 of the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Johannesburg.

This follows the signing of a similar MOU in December 2007 with the Johannesburg minibus taxi leadership, through the Top Six Taxi Association and the Greater Johannesburg Regional Taxi Council (GJRTC).  The City's taxi operator engagement on BRT continues to be extensive, via a Steering Committee, Technical Committee and 18 affected associations, with assistance being provided by the City in terms of consulting and logistical support.

Speaking at the bus operator MOU signing, the Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, Amos Masondo, said he was very pleased that engagement with the bus operators had resulted in the MOU, with all signatories committed to working with each other to explore a successful and viable BRT system in the City.

"We, as the City of Johannesburg, are fully committed to implementing Rea Vaya BRT in order to provide vastly improved public transport for the people of the City, and the thousands of visitors that come to Johannesburg.  In order for the project to be implemented timeously and successfully, it is vital that we engage and work with the key bus and taxi operators.  Engagements with bus operators up to now have been on an ad hoc basis – since Metrobus and Putco are the main bus operators who will be affected by Phase 1 of Rea Vaya BRT, it is important for them to form a bus operator steering committee and have more formal interaction with the City interrogating Rea Vaya BRT proposals which will impact on their current operations.."

Masondo said the City acknowledges and respects the historical and present role of both the bus and minibus taxi industries in the City's public transport system, as well as their social roles and responsibilities.

"All parties, through the MOU, also acknowledge and respect the need for an appropriate and fair apportionment of the Rea Vaya BRT system between the modes of public transport affected by the new system, based on proper consultation and negotiation between the parties and the ability of operators to meet the qualifying criteria for operators to be participants in the Rea Vaya BRT system," he added.

Vincent Mntambo, Chairman of the Metrobus Board, said the MOU was the first step in showing his organisation's commitment to assisting in making the Rea Vaya project a success.  "This is a commitment from Metrobus to discussing the opportunities presented by Rea Vaya.

"I am very excited about the Rea Vaya project and it is absolutely a solution to modern city problems faced in South Africa. If managed and implemented correctly it will be the solution for this City." Mr Mntambo added that the process needed to ensure that labour formed part of Metrobus moving forward in the project. 

Commenting on the MOU, Franco Pisapia, Putco MD, said it was a milestone, as it "signifies a commitment from all parties involved to investigate the pros and cons of the implementation of Rea Vaya and to mitigate these.

"We also believe that any benefits derived from the system should be passed on to our passengers.  The biggest challenge will be to get all the parties to work together and develop the BRT system in Johannesburg and ensure its success.  Another challenge will be to ensure fairness and transparency in the apportionment of services to each party."

Pisapia stressed that his organisation supported the Rea Vaya BRT concept as it was in agreement that the public transport system needed a revamp.

Last month the City confirmed that the Rea Vaya BRT system will be available to provide bus services for the Confederations Cup in June 2009, concentrating on areas that will ensure the BRT can provide services around and between the key soccer stadia in the City, as well as looking to satisfy the overwhelming need for enhanced public transport for commuters travelling from Soweto and surrounding areas into the Inner City.