Ambitious:  A bus rapid-transit station at the University of Johannesburg in Auckland Park, Johannesburg.    Picture: SOWETAN
Ambitious: A bus rapid-transit station at the University of Johannesburg in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Picture: SOWETAN

The government has admitted that the R15bn Gauteng Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system has been a mammoth flop‚ with commuters shunning the system in favour of taxis and conventional buses.

In his opening speech at the four-day Southern African Transport Conference in Pretoria on Monday, Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi told delegates that the buses were running empty and that the government needed to rethink the system.

"We are acknowledging, as the Department of Transport, that there are challenges with BRT system, and we will review the system‚ look at it and come with the solution that will be to the best interest of commuters and government‚" he said.

Joe Maswanganyi.    Picture: SOWETAN
Joe Maswanganyi. Picture: SOWETAN

The minister said the buses were beautiful‚ clean and fully operational in the metros, but commuters were just not coming on board.

He said they would scale it down‚ if need be‚ so that money could be redirected to where it was needed most.

"We have to rethink how we redesign the BRT system, so that it does not continue to drain money from the fiscus and there is no value at the end of the day‚" the minister said.

Gauteng transport MEC Ismail Vadi also told delegates that the BRT ridership was not good.

"We have already invested around R15bn in the system in the three metros‚ but Gauteng ridership is not more than 75‚000 people per day. When fully in place‚ BRT will comprise 700km of dedicated bus lanes. We have to ask some serious questions. Should we have gone for something more affordable and more viable? Do we need such fancy stations?" he asked.

Vadi said they were spending R50m to R70m on each BRT platform. "We must learn from this; we need to increase ridership and reduce costs."

Despite the costly failure of the system‚ Vadi said they were still testing the first phase of the 56km Thembisa to Vosloorus BRT route, which would require the construction of 56 stations.

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