A delegation from the Msunduzi Municipality from Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal recently paid a second study visit to GO GEORGE. Three years ago, they formed part of a larger group visit of interested municipalities, but this time they brought along municipal officials, political representatives and taxi and bus industry representatives.
The aim of this second visit was to learn about the institutional and contractual functions of the George Integrated Public Transport Network (GIPTN) and infrastructure component options considered and implemented by GO GEORGE.
According to Lindelwa Mngenela, Acting Head of the Msunduzi IRPTN, their plan is to launch the inception phase by December 2020.
“We have started planning the city-wide network in 2013, but after a directive from the National Department of Transport (NDoT) to fast track operations by the 2019/2020 financial year, we had to work out our inception in order to meet this directive while we are still busy with road widening for the first phase,” Mngenela said.
“There is a call from NDoT that cities need to scale down on the infrastructure implementation, focus on operations first, then build while operating. GO GEORGE was the perfect example for us to visit as their approach is exactly that: operate, monitor, then improve. We could learn from the lessons GO GEORGE has learnt.”
Mngenela said it was good that they had been accompanied by their public transport industry. “They have also gained a lot with regards to the VOC (vehicle operating company) operations, working together with the Municipality to resolve conflicts, and also owning the project from the beginning.”
Asked whether there was anything in particular in the GO GEORGE project that caught her attention and impressed her, she immediately mentioned the universal accessible minibus fleet.
According to James Robb, GO GEORGE Manager, the customised minibuses are indeed unique and were the first public transport minibuses with this level of accessibility in South Africa. “They
always seem to steal the limelight and we are indeed extremely proud of the design that had been done in cooperation with municipal engineers on our team at the time. While our larger buses use a hydraulic ramp to accommodate passengers with special needs, our minibus deploys a hydraulic hoist with a platform for wheelchairs, baby strollers or any person with mobility challenges.”