Cape Town’s MyCiti bus service woes pile up

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Residents wanting to block a new route, employee strikes and now disgruntled passengers are adding to the city’s MyCiti bus service woes.

The multi-billion Rand project kicked off with the promise of enhancing public transport across Cape Town when the country hosted Fifa’s Soccer World Cup in 2010.

But things seem to be falling apart for MyCiti as this week bus drivers from the Transpeninsula Investments (TPI) vehicle operating company went on strike this week. This destabilised the service, with buses unavailable on several routes.

Two MyCiti buses were also vandalised in separate incidents on Thursday night and Friday morning.

Coupled to that, the City of Cape Town is entangled in a public spat with southern suburbs residents over its proposed expansion of the MyCiti route along South Road in Wynberg.

Residents face eviction from council-owned houses as city officials plan to push ahead with their R4,1-billion expansion plan.

Weekend Argus yesterday spoke to a number of commuters yesterday to hear about their MyCiti experiences.

Natalie le Roux, who works as a researcher in central Cape Town, said she stopped using the bus from Milnerton for a host of reasons.

“We moved to Cape Town from Bloemfontein last year. I’ve had some good and bad experiences. Sometimes the buses are just too full,” she said.

“I used to wait in the morning for six buses to pass before I could take a bus. The buses are packed. I was put off from taking the bus because I get squashed like a sardine.”

She added: “They don’t clean the bus either. When you stand you have to hold on to the railings and it’s caked in dirt. I always have hand sanitisers and whenever I get out a sanitise my hands.”

Le Roux said she decided to drive with her car to work daily.

“I took the bus because I wanted to save money but also because of traffic. I wanted to avoid traffic jams. But now I just take my car,” she said.

“I would take the bus again but perhaps they need to jack up their service. They also shouldn’t stop at all the bus stops because most people travel directly from Table View to the city.”

Another commuter, Nabeel Jackson Rhode, said he recently started usingMyCiti.

“It’s been awesome and always on time. It beats the cost of other public transport and it’s efficient,” he said.

“The cashless system creates an efficient hop-on, hop-off experience. It eliminates the need for cash on the part of the bus driver and commuter.”

But, he added, “this week saw a change”.

“There were late arrivals and no apology. We usually wait 20 minutes for a bus but this week we waited almost 40 minutes at a time.”

He said he wondered “whether it was never the plan to truly benefit people”.

“MyCiti was crammed into the transport system with its exclusive lanes and so forth. Shame on them for doing an injustice.”

Ayesha Sheik from Walmer Estate was more upbeat about MyCiti though.

“I use it to get to work in town. You can use Google Maps to see exactly when it’s scheduled to arrive (at the bus stop). So if it’s running a bit later than scheduled, you get the exact time it’s arriving,” said Sheikh.

“You can’t use cash though. So if you forget or lose your card it’s a bit inconvenient.”

Councillor Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport at the City of Cape Town, said they would monitor the bus strike this week.

“Law enforcement officials have been deployed on certain routes to ensure the safety of our passengers and bus drivers and to prevent any further damage to our property,” he said.

He added: “At this stage it is unclear when the strike will come to an end.”

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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