Taxis and buses in a scramble to transport stranded commuters

Commuting to work and back home has become no one’s favourite time of the day.

Desperate to reach their destination, commuters are being forced to stand in longer than usual queues to get a taxi thanks to the breakdown of Metrorail’s Central line over a month ago after another incident of vandalism.

Some chatting, others moaning, they are all left wondering when the next taxi will arrive while also suffering the hot temperatures.

As if that was not enough, commuters also have to spend more money now. Some take two taxis to reach work.

Travelling to work and back home in rush hour is not for the faint-hearted and is often subject to delays.

But one of the biggest taxi associations, the Cape Organisation of Democratic Taxi Associations (CODETA) denied that they could not cope with the loads of the commuters. In fact, its public relations officer, Besuthu Ndungane, said there is nothing new, the numbers are still the same. He said to them it is business as usual.

Golden Arrow Bus Services public relations manager, Bronwen Dyke-Beyer, said Golden Arrow operates at capacity during peak but as the most stable public transport operator in the Metropole and is very much aware of how many people rely on the company to get to work and back.

“Throughout this period we have therefore run additional buses after peak hours to ensure that waiting commuters are able to board a bus as quickly as is reasonably possible.

“Unfortunately, Golden Arrow only has a fraction of the carrying capacity of the train service and this impacts the speed with which we are able to clear passengers,” she said.

She added that the company and Metrorail have for some time had an arrangement in place where they agreed to assist commuters in times of crisis.

But she said the arrangement was not intended to be permanent and was based on allowing Metrorail passengers to use their valid Metrorail tickets to board their buses free of charge only during off peak periods. Now that Metrorail is no longer selling tickets for their services this agreement is no longer in place.

But according to Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF), the heavy load on the taxis might be over soon.

Ndithini Tyhido, KDF chairperson, wrote to this newspaper saying his organisation salutes the parliamentary portfolio committee of transport under the capable interim chairmanship of Leonard Ramatlakane for the speedy resolution of the Metrorail central line crisis that has been going on for more than five weeks now.

“We further congratulate the committee for rejecting Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (PRASA)proposal to only reopen the line on Wednesday next week.”

But the Metrorail spokesperson could not confirm when the line would be reopened. “

We will be able to issue a statement once the details have been confirmed. At this stage there is no indication when our briefing will be.”

The Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) kept on postponing talking to Vukani.

On the day of going to press, they said their spokesperson would only available the following day, a response they kept on saying since last Friday.