Praise for SA’s Bus Rapid Transit

29 January 2010

The City of Johannesburg’s Bus Rapid Transit system, Rea Vaya, has earned international recognition from the US-based Institute for Transport and Development Policy (ITDP).

Rea Vaya won a first place honourable mention at this year’s Sustainable Transport Awards, organised by the institute, for the successful implementation of its first phase.

India’s first full BRT system, Janmarg in Ahmedabad, was the overall winner. The awards ceremony was held in Washington DC on 12 January, and was hosted by Enrique Penalosa, ITDP board president and a former mayor of Bogota, Colombia.

All the nominees were cities in developing nations, a first in the six-year history of the awards.

Johannesburg has launched the first BRT system in Africa, and completed the first mass transit investments in the city since the end of apartheid. Rea Vaya is the first public transit system to link the previously disadvantaged Soweto to the central business district.

“In under three years, Johannesburg opened a state-of-the-art BRT system that uses the cleanest buses on the continent,” said Manfred Breithaupt, a senior transport adviser and the project director of Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit, in Germany.

“Johannesburg’s accomplishment against enormous challenges and the upgrading of the corridor in Soweto with lighting and sidewalks makes it an exceptional honourable mention.”

Sustainable transport awards

The Sustainable Transport Award is given each year by the ITDP to a city that uses transport innovations to enhance mobility for residents. Honourable mentions were received by four cities that were recognised for creating new BRT systems that reduce carbon emissions and create the most beneficial environment for pedestrians and cyclists.

An exceptional honourable mention went to Johannesburg for creating Rea Vaya. Others honoured were Cali, in Colombia for transforming its citywide BRT service with Masivo Integrado de Occidente; Curitiba, in Brazil for constructing a new BRT line and city park on a former federal highway; and Guadalajara, in Mexico for completing a full BRT system in less than two years at an affordable cost.

“We are humbled and honoured that the Rea Vaya BRT system received international recognition so soon after its launch by an eminent international institution like the ITDP,” said Rehana Moosajee, the member of Johannesburg’s mayoral committee for transport.

“It is a tribute to the determination of the executive mayor and the political leadership of our city for remaining committed to responding to the long-standing call by communities for improvements in public transport and the transformation of historic ownership trends in the public transport arena. Rea Vaya is also one of the mayoral legacy projects that aim to leave a legacy beyond the 2010 Fifa World Cup™.”

The ITDP was established in 1985 and has become an international leader in the promotion of environmentally sustainable transportation policies and projects. Its selection committee consists of leading international institutions working in the field of sustainable transport.

“The City of Johannesburg completed an extraordinary project with the implementation of the first phase of its bus rapid transit system, Rea Vaya,” said Penalosa. “This is an incredibly important precedent and [Johannesburg] should be proud to be a leader in sustainable transport both in Africa and the world.”

Source: City of Johannesburg