There’s a story that gets told in South African transport circles. In the early 2000s, SA cities were redrawing their transport plans for the “New SA”. Enrique Peñalosa, the groundbreaking former mayor of Colombia’s Bogota, was speaking at a conference in Cape Town. Bogota had and has a reputation for using bus rapid transit systems (BRT) and public transport to address a whole range of urban issues that also concern SA cities: crime, inequality, exclusion, and so on.

As the story goes, the official who collected Peñalosa from the airport showed him Cape Town’s famously unfinished Foreshore Freeway bridge and told him, with pride, that construction would soon be complete after many decades; to which Peñalosa said, “Take me back to the airport. If you’re still building freeways, you’re not ready to hear what I have to say.” The car was not turned around, his speech was a barnstormer, and the highway was never unfinished...

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