Circular route popular

27 May 2010
The inner city route is proving to be a popular service
Happy passengers are climbing aboard the Rea Vaya buses plying the new circular route around the inner city.

 

DORA MODAU is a newcomer to the Rea Vaya system. The dragging Transnet strike, now in its second week, forced her to take Joburg's Bus Rapid Transit system for the first time.


Catching a Rea Vaya bus is easy
Catching a Rea Vaya bus is easy
She says it was easy once she understood how the bus system worked and she is finding the service to be excellent.

"Rea Vaya is doing a wonderful job during the strike." Modau was also pleasantly surprised with the friendly and helpful staff. "The drivers are friendly, the [station] staff are friendly," she says.

Modau's only concern is that the system works on cash only. She would like to see a coupon system implemented as it makes monthly budgeting and travelling so much simpler.

The Rea Vaya smart card system will be implemented early in the new year to make things easier for commuters, Rea Vaya management confirms.

Bus driver Cloepers Gcaba is a hooter-happy individual, a big white smile a permanent fixture on his handsome face. Pumping the bus hooter every so often is his way of warning and communicating with fellow road users, driving along the new inner city circular route.

Bus driver Cloepers Gcaba makes passengers feel welcome
Bus driver Cloepers Gcaba makes passengers feel welcome
The Inner City distribution route (C3) runs through form the Inner City's Chancellor House Station to Braamfontein, Hillbrow and Constitution Hill and back to the Inner City.


"Hello mama, where are you going?" he calls out to a pedestrian standing rather forlornly at the traffic light. With the lights still red, he embarks on some idle chat.

"This bus is easy, easy," he says, commenting on his career move from driving a minibus taxi to the 18m long articulated bus. Gcaba's friend and fellow bus driver, Sibusiso Mbatha, says he likes his new job but there are still challenges: salaries and personal safety are concerns. 

FRIENDLY SERVICE

One of the most welcoming changes for commuters is the general friendliness with which everyone is treated.

When new commuters are picked up at the next station, Gcaba gets up to check each individual's destination, making sure people are on the right bus. In between, he has time to share some idle gossip or personal wisdom with some of his regular customers. The bus fills with easy laughter as people settle down.

Rea Vaya is for one and all
Rea Vaya is for one and all

Likewise, employees at the stations - which include marshals, cashiers and security guards - greet each new arrival and check that passengers are heading to their intended destinations. Concern for passenger safety is very important, with security guards always keeping an eye out for unwanted elements.

Some commuters say the circular bus takes too long, with waiting times sometimes extending up to 30 minutes.

Regular Rea Vaya passengers Tshego Mothupi, Lindeni Zikalala and Eulenda Shinlele say they would like to have buses straight from Soweto to Braamfontein. All three work in Braamfontein and need a quicker form of commuting.

"Even though the service is new and still going through growing pains, some of these things are quite urgent," says Mothupi.

One idea they hope to see implemented is for station officials and commuters to be able to check where the bus is at any given time, or to receive instant information at the stations of any delays.

In some areas around the inner city, traffic congestion remains a huge challenge, which obviously affects the efficiency of the service.

But challenges aside, when one looks around the stations it is clear that this is a service lapped up by the general public, with schoolchildren, students, office workers and foreign merchandisers all enjoying the safety and comfort of the Rea Vaya system. Joburg is going places.

 

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