Celebrating nine years of service to the community of George, there is an extra bounce in the step of all GO GEORGE stakeholders this year, sparked by the long-awaited addition of Thembalethu to the list of communities that can enjoy the service.
Nine years ago on 8 December 2014, the bus service rolled out four routes with 14 beautiful buses that caught the eye and made residents’ hearts beat proudly as the long, shiny bodies drove down the streets of George. Eight months later, 35 minibuses with hydraulic hoists for wheelchairs were added to the fleet. The minibuses were designed and built especially for GO GEORGE and remain the only public service minibuses in South Africa that have this feature.
Today the bus service is operated over 145 km on 34 routes with 54 standard buses, 33 midibuses and 35 minibuses traversing the streets of George and enabling residents to travel to work and school as well as to medical and community services and shops throughout town. A total of 97 buses are operational during peak hours, with a specified number of backup buses and buses undergoing routine maintenance or repairs at the depot.
Gradual roll-out to Thembalethu
The service to Thembalethu is being rolled out gradually to accommodate the traffic challenges on the Thembalethu/N2 bridge. The first route, between Thembalethu and Blanco, was introduced on 5 November and was welcomed with great excitement and gratitude by the residents of Thembalethu. Altogether 30 028 trips were undertaken on this route in November alone.
Announcements about which routes come next will be made when the construction work on the bridge and other factors allow.
“We are very proud of everything we have achieved thus far,” says GO GEORGE Acting Manager, Morné Lakay. “But this year, we are mostly grateful to have rolled out to Thembalethu. Even though we activated only one route, the Thembalethu residents now believe that we are determined to include them in the benefits offered by this affordable, scheduled transport service.”
More people travel by bus
Aside from the expansion to Thembalethu, it is clear that people increasingly choose the bus service as their means of transport.
Last year, GO GEORGE carried 41 581 passengers during Black Friday weekend. This year, the weekend saw 43 998 boardings. The average weekday trips have also increased over the past year, from 17 635 in November 2022 to 19 979 last month – an increase of more than 2 000 trips per day.
“This trend is gratifying since, besides offering benefits to our passengers, public transport also aims to alleviate the impact of toxic exhaust fumes on the environment. When we encourage George residents to make use of the bus service – even if they own a car – we explain this as the environmentally friendly choice,” Lakay said.
For more information about the bus service, the GO GEORGE Call Centre is operational from 05:00 until 20:00, seven days a week, and can be called toll-free on 0800 044 044.