Gauteng households spend 10% of their income on public transport

Almost 60% of households in Gauteng spent more than the policy maximum target of 10% of their income on public transport in 2019/20, up from 55% in 2014.

This is according to the Gauteng Household Travel Survey (GHTS) released recently.

The 2019/20 survey has been conducted and compiled by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport.

Over 30 000 residents in the cities of Johannesburg, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni, as well as the districts of Sedibeng and the West Rand, participated in the survey.

The GHTS is a province-wide primary data collection project, which collects and analyses information about household travel patterns in order to provide improved understanding of the interaction between households and transport service delivery.

The survey assists with evidence-led transport planning in both the province and municipalities within the province.

Speaking at the official launch event in Pretoria, CSIR impact Area Manager for Transport Systems and Operations, Dr Mathetha Mokonyama, said transport continues to contribute significantly to the increased cost of living and by extension, the cost of doing business in Gauteng.

“Poorer households are the most impacted by COVID-19 from a transport perspective, as they continue to spend more on public transport.

“Therefore, there is a need to strengthen and [provide] better financing models of public transport in the province,” he said.

The survey shows that average travel time has also increased by 17% from 46 minutes in 2014 to 57 minutes in 2019/20.

Average travel time over the past 18 years has almost doubled. Many choose to travel either earlier or later to avoid peak times.

Travel times are particularly high for public transport trips and have deteriorated markedly for buses.

“There is a need to increase the capacity of the existing network, particularly higher capacity public transport infrastructure and services,” Mokonyama said.

Mokonyama said walking remains the predominant mode of travel in Gauteng adding that systematic delivery of non-motorised transport infrastructure is critical for improved transport service delivery.

“Over 29% of trips in the peak period are ‘walking all the way’. Walking time to access the first public transport service increased from nine minutes in 2014 to 14 minutes in 2019/20.

“Accessing final destinations from public transport increased from eight to 14 minutes. Accessing of train services takes the longest,” he said.

Gauteng MEC for Public Transport and Roads Infrastructure, Jacob Mamabolo, commended the CSIR for compiling what he described as a “point of reference, data and information put together by an institution that is reputable, has integrity and thrives on excellence”.

Mamabolo described the report as the voice of commuters urging transport stakeholders to implement the findings and thus improving the lives of all commuters in the province.

Service satisfaction

The survey also shows that households are more satisfied than dissatisfied with bus and train services.

Dissatisfaction relates more to issues of accessibility. They tend to be more dissatisfied than satisfied with minibus taxis, particularly relating to safety.

Minibus taxis account for 23% of all peak-period trips, private car driving over 22%, higher capacity trains and buses about 5%.

Higher capacity modes are not used because they are not available, infrequent and generally inaccessible for the trips being made. About 70% of households do not own a car.

“I want to take this opportunity to say to the leadership of the taxi industry that commuters are not satisfied with the taxi industry, and this is clearly indicated in the report, as it relates to matters of safety in terms of accidents and the treatment of commuters.

“It is a matter that needs serious attention and it is worrying that the people are saying they would prefer other modes of transport like buses and trains,” said Mamabolo.

Mamobolo acknowledged that commuters are financially distressed.

“The cost of transport remains one of our biggest challenges. We need to look at the integration of public transport and subsidies for public transport modes, so that we can empower commuters to make choices and lower the costs of travel in our province in order to boost household income.

“Transport infrastructure is a key area that we looking at. We need to encourage people to walk and to use other modes of transport such cycling in order to decongest the roads.”

One of the issues that the CSIR has raised is the increased time to travel in Gauteng.

“If it takes 57 minutes to complete your journey, by the time you arrive at work you are tired and it is also affecting the performance of our learners at school.

“This has a direct impact on productivity and, as a result, on the economy,” Mamabolo said.

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