Blade Nzimande. Picture: MARTIN RHODES
Blade Nzimande. Picture: MARTIN RHODES

The government is undertaking a review of the entire regime of government subsidies of public transport, transport minister Blade Nzimande said in parliament on Wednesday.

Nzimande was replying to questions by MPs in the national assembly.

‘‘It is very clear that our public transport subsidy system is still favouring the better off,’’ he said. ‘‘We are looking comprehensively at that so that our public transport system is subsidised in a manner that the main beneficiaries are the working class and the poor.’’

Nzimande said it was not correct that the government was spending money on the Gautrain, which benefited the well-off, whereas minibus taxis, which carry 68% of commuters, did not receive anything, or not much. ‘‘That requires attention and has to be changed,’’ he said.

The minister also addressed the ongoing problem of Metrorail train services in the Cape Town metro, which are frequently dysfunctional and subject to delays. He said there was a recovery plan led by the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) for the central line, which is the most problematic.

The plan includes resignalling the Bonteheuwel signal room, rebuilding the station and other signal rooms, and removing all speed restrictions by June 2019. The resignalling project is  already 65% completed, and includes the construction of a new operating centre in Bellville.

The first contract for the construction of high-security concrete wall at the Nyanga section of the central line has been awarded and work is underway.

More reliable train sets will become available on a monthly basis, Nzimande said. Safety is also being enforced through strict compliance with the prescriptions of the Rail Safety Regulator.

An agency has also been appointed to beef up security in the fight against copper theft and other forms of vandalism.