The Gautrain. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
The Gautrain. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

It is easy to underestimate the impact of the daily commute on the SA economy. Gautrain advertises that you could reduce the time lost to the commute (or gain discretionary time) by using the Gautrain.

The sandpit spat over e-tolls — an important issue — is seen only in terms of scrapping it or enforcing the user-pays principle. The topic of this week’s annual SA transport conference concerns the readiness, or not, of SA to manage/embrace/capitalise on disruptive transport technologies.

Should we not bring the three issues mentioned above, and others, together and consider the broader picture? Yesterday’s answers will only further entrench yesterday’s problems.

In an age where many private car users travel to work to use computers, we should reduce the need to travel to work by  working within walking distance of home. Note, not working from home, but working close to home. This is because going to work fulfils certain very important functions, but working in a high-tech facility near our homes can meet the same needs.

Working close to home would require repurposing our neighbourhoods to be future fit. It would also reduce the demand for road space during the commute, lengthen the repair and maintenance cycle, reduce the need to build new roads as often, reduce health spending by encouraging walking to work, remove the stress of the commute and improve family life. In addition, it opens up opportunities for better social integration in neighbourhoods, more local work opportunities and better social cohesion.

We should be actively reducing the need for the commute, not trying to simply modify the existing options.

Shelley Childs