Gautrain, minibus partnership benefits passengers and operators 

The partnership between Gautrain and taxi associations was on the right track, especially after having grown to transport 72 000 commuters a month. 

This was indicated by Gautrain Management Agency’s (GMA) chief executive designate, Tshepo Kgobe, saying the shuttle service that taxi associations are offering to Gautrain has debunked the myth that the taxi industry cannot offer a scheduled, safe and reliable service. 

“The Gautrain Midibus Feeder and Distribution Service started operating from Gautrain Marlboro station in 2011 following a partnership with taxi associations from Alexandra township in Johannesburg. 

“Twelve years later, additional midibus routes are operating from Gautrain Centurion and Hatfield stations in partnership with the minibus taxi operators. At an affordable R12 per trip, the Gautrain-branded midibuses now transport about 72 000 commuters a month. This partnership has created employment for 69 people, 21 are women and 30 are youth,” said Kgobe. 

The company in October 2018 introduced more midibus routes in three areas, including the Gautrain Marlboro station to Kelvin, Buccleuch and Greenstone Mall. 

Kgobe said the contracting model addresses a number of issues, including enhancing the integration of the Gautrain system with other public transport services within the province, improving accessibility to Gautrain stations, and reducing traffic congestion to the stations. 

“In addition, the vast majority of midibus commuters also use the Gautrain which boosts train ridership,” he said. 

Kgobe said the partnership was mutually beneficial with taxi operators deriving equal benefits. 

“They do not only gain revenue but also acquire valuable skills and knowledge that equips them to consistently deliver an efficient public transport service and excellent customer service. Furthermore, the midibus service attracts commuters who would not ordinarily use midibus taxis. Taxi operators have maintained service delivery and quality, with no strikes, disruptions or lawlessness. 

A representative of the Alexandra Taxi Association, Mxolisi Ximba, expressed appreciation to the GMA team for the skills they have transferred through the midibus service initiative. 

“We can apply the lessons and skills we have gained, such as negotiation skills, to change the taxi industry. I urge other stakeholders in the taxi industry to come on board in this initiative,” Ximba said. 

Kgobe added that when cabinet gave the Gautrain project a go-ahead in 2005, they expressed that it should strive to be more inclusive by integrating with other modes of transport and specifically mentioned minibus taxis. 

“We are on the right track with the midibus service, it is a win-win solution for the Gautrain, taxi operators and commuters. The minibus taxi industry is a critical public transport provider in South Africa and there is no reason why this proven contracting model cannot be replicated across the country. 

“Future service enhancements include introducing integrated ticketing. We want the Midibus Feeder and Distribution Service to use the same tap-and-go, cashless ticketing system we use for our trains and buses,” he said. 

The SA National Taxi Council told Sunday World it viewed the partnership with Gautrain as pivotal in empowering operators in the areas of fleet operations. 

“The partnership attests to the ideals of integrated public transport network, which is espoused to ensure the seamless coexistence of all modes of transport,” said Santaco national spokesperson Mmatshikhidi Phala. 

Phala said the taxi operators were happy with the income they were generating from the partnership. 

“In terms of the rates, we believe we started on the right footing. We obviously collectively have dreams to continously grow the avenue and ensure that it empowers even more operators in the affected routes. We are certainly not complaining about anything but only looking into prospects of more growth,” said Phala. 

“Growth is inevitable. The demand for public transportation remains key and so are the prospects of growing even further. We want the culture of feeder sprinter busses to infiltrate many more transport modes just as we are currently doing with Gauteng.  

“We are excited to venture into other facets of what this partnership could birth,” she said. 

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