After about five years of planning and deliberating about the design and utilisation of the facility as a central point in the public transport network, the George Transport Hub was opened on 8 December 2016. Since two of the Thembalethu routes have been appointed to stop at the Hub, the public seems to be uncertain about the utilisation of those stops in the meantime.
“The planned roll-out to Thembalethu on 11 December 2016 was postponed four working days before the opening of the Hub, where planning had been including the Thembalethu service,” says James Robb, GO GEORGE Manager. “But of course, we want to use this entire facility we have been looking forward to for so long. We therefore decided to temporarily move two transfer routes into the Thembalethu stops, not wanting to bring any of our main routes in, just to move them out again later when we roll out more phases of the system. It is just too much of a disruption for such large numbers of passengers.”
The routes that have been appointed to stop around the Hub are the City Loop (Route 13), Denneoord (Route 56), the Industrial Loop (Route 9), Loerie Park (Route 24) and only two of the Thembalethu routes. Routes 7 (CBD – Garden Route Mall) and 13R (the reverse City Loop) will be using the stops planned for Thembalethu until there is more clarity about future roll-out dates. The buses will start parking around the Hub on Sunday, 18 December 2016. The Pacaltsdorp routes stop just around the corner from the Hub in Market Street, while the Rosemoor and Blanco buses stop close by in Cradock Street.
According to Robb, it was never the intention to direct all routes in the system into the Hub, as some people seem to be expecting. “There are only six bays around the Hub, and decisions about which routes would stop where, were based on expected passenger numbers on the routes, timetables and transfer links, with the recent introduction of the wider CBD routing for certain routes, part of the overall plan. A bigger type of shelter than those we have already installed elsewhere on the routes is part of the planning for the other route stops in the vicinity of the Hub, so that all passengers will enjoy shelter from sun, rain and wind while waiting,” he says.
Robb encourages all passengers to make use of the facilities at the Hub, like the ticket booths, toilets and the under-cover seating when they must spend some time in the CBD before the arrival of their buses. “With the rest of the routes all stopping between 50m and 100m from the Hub, the facilities are as much for them to enjoy, as for those whose buses stop directly next to the Hub,” he said.