The GO GEORGE minibuses which could occasionally be seen zipping through town during driver training over the past few months, joined the fleet of standard and midi buses in full force on Sunday.
This coincided with and enabled the refinement of those routes rolled out in Phases 1 and 2, including Rosemoor, Loerie Park, Denneoord, Blanco, Heatherlands and Heather Park. Refinements to the Pacaltsdorp (Phase 3) routes will follow later this month.
According to James Robb, GO GEORGE manager, the system had to run with the bigger buses that were not ideal on some routes while the minibuses were being built. “Ideally the minibuses would have been available as each phase has rolled out, but manufacture of these unique GO GEORGE custom built vehicles took longer than expected. The minibuses had to conform to the universal accessibility requirements of the Department of Transport, but no such buses were available in South Africa at the time and had to be developed in conjunction with the supplier. The design had to be approved before production could commence, a process that delayed the delivery of the minibuses.
“Larger buses were used on minibus routes in the interim so as not to delay the GO GEORGE public transport implementation. Now the minibuses have been put into service where needed, in the place of the initial big buses, which could not travel everywhere that the minibuses can. We can now start to run services as planned, extending routes and operating in two directions where only one direction was possible before,” he says.
On routes where minibuses are being implemented, frequency will be increased so that passengers will still reach their destinations in time. Routes that are now being serviced by minibuses are: 7 (Garden Route Mall – CBD, except on Saturdays and public holidays when standard buses will be used), 24 (Loerie Park), 56 (Denneoord), 58 (Heatherlands and Heather Park), 3 (Blanco Community) and 13 (City Loop).
“People ask us whether trips on the minibuses cost the same, and whether they will run on the same routes,” says Robb. “This is still the full, scheduled GO GEORGE service and cost stays the same, as well as the routes, except where we have expanded routes to areas that could not be reached by the bigger buses before.”