Happy third birthday

30 August 2012
RVlebo_topThe T1 route takes passengers across town, and stops near plenty of sporting venues, such as Joburg’s world class stadiums, as well as cultural spots.

Rea Vaya has achieved a lot its inception three years ago


Feeder routes have been opened in Soweto

REA Vaya turns three today, with many achievements to its name. It is one of the most sustainable public transport systems in the country, and can lay claim to having made life smoother and easier for many commuters.

Joburg’s Bus Rapid Transit was launched on 30 August 2009 in Soweto, with the first trunk route, Phase 1A. Since then, it has become a part of residents’ lives and has changed the landscape of the city. It is now one of the most heavily used, low-cost transit systems in Joburg, with routes running between Soweto in the west and Ellis Park in the east, through the CBD, complemented by buses running an inner city route.

Feeder buses also now run from Protea Glen to Thokoza Park and from Eldorado Park to Lakeview. Covering 325 kilometres of special lanes and intersections, feeder and complementary buses take passengers to the trunk route stations. From there, they can take buses to and from the CBD on designated bus lanes.

The inner city circular route travels around the CBD from Hillbrow and Braamfontein to Ellis Park in the east, and Chancellor House on the western edge of the city. Progress in phases 1B and 1C is advanced, with operations expected to start later in the year.

Phase 1B starts in Noordgesig in Soweto, and travels through Pennyville and New Canada, Highgate, Auckland Park and Braamfontein to Parktown, Metro Centre and Rissik Street in the CBD.

Scrapping un-roadworthy taxis

The buses

PioTrans, the bus operating company of Phase 1A, has 143 buses. The company is owned and managed by the nine taxi associations affected by the BRT, and employs over 300 former taxi drivers who were trained to drive Rea Vaya buses

The popularity of Rea Vaya has affected a modal shift from vehicle use to bus travel, especially in areas such as Soweto. Many professionals are now choosing to leave their cars at home to catch the bus to work.

Over the three years and the expanding network, passenger numbers have risen from 11 800 a day to 42 000 a day. More than a thousand trips are made each day, and 18 500 kilometres are travelled daily.

The buses use dedicated lanes on fixed roads and run reliably and frequently – some as often as every five minutes during peak times and every 10 minutes in off-peak times.

Stations are eye-catching and are conveniently located, well designed and comfortable. They offer subways where necessary, vehicle movement unimpeded by congestion, fare collection before boarding, and quick passenger loading and unloading.

Colour and art at the stations and involvement of customers have added to their high standards. Recently, Rea Vaya opened four new stations in the inner city and an express service to improve its operations.

The routes

Commuters using the T1 route starting at Thokoza Park or the C1 route starting at Ndingilizi are now able to catch an express service in the morning that does not stop at any stations until the bus reaches the CBD.

The four new stations are Basothong Station at Selby South, serving the T1 and C1 routes; Rissik Street Station, serving the T1 route via the Civic Centre and the C3 route; Harrison Street Station, serving the T1 route via the Civic Centre and C3; and Park Station, serving T1 via Civic Centre and C3.

In an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and minimise their impact on the climate, Rea Vaya’s fleet is low-sulphur diesel buses with the most advanced pollution reduction equipment, leading to an improvement in air quality.

Work on the Phase 1B route is going on in earnest


The integration of Rea Vaya with the Gautrain and Metrorail at Park Station in downtown Joburg has made movement in the city even easier. It is now possible to transfer from one to the other to get to destinations in a short space of time.

It has even eased travelling between cities: the Gautrain can be caught from Pretoria, Sandton and Rosebank stations to Park Station, and then a Rea Vaya bus to the CBD, Braamfontein, Ellis Park and Soweto.

Most noticeably, perhaps, Rea Vaya has created jobs in the companies with which it collaborates. These include PioTrans and the Metro Trading Company. About 816 permanent positions and 6 840 temporary jobs have been created since its inception.

There is also an internship programme in place at Rea Vaya that helps students acquire working skills.

And the Bus Rapid Transit has not gone unnoticed internationally: it has hosted a number of visitors form Tanzania, China, the United States and Senegal who came to South Africa specifically to study how Rea Vaya works.

All these achievements are not withstanding the boost it gave to the football World Cup in 2010. Over that month, it transported 307 000 passengers to Ellis Park and Soccer City stadiums and cleared way ahead of FIFA benchmark times.

All in all, Rea Vaya is something of which Joburg and its residents can be justifiably proud.

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