GMA CEO Jack van der Merwe
Gauteng’s three metros, and all other providers of public transport in the province, will be able to retain their various services’ individualised branding under the new Gauteng Transport Authority (GTA), says Gautrain Management Agency CEO Jack van der Merwe.
This means that a system such as the Gautrain will be able to retain its own identity and colours, as will the Harambee bus rapid transit (BRT) system, in Ekurhuleni, and the A Re Yeng BRT in Tshwane, notes Van der Merwe. However, on the door of the service there will be a sign that states: “Gauteng on the Move”.
“This will be a badge of excellence, such as Transport for London, or RATP, in Paris,” explains Van der Merwe.
Van der Merwe is overseeing the establishment of the GTA.
The legislation around the establishment of the GTA is currently being finalised, he explains, with the authority expected to be up and running in the first quarter of next year.
The point of departure of the GTA, says Van der Merwe, is that the authority must facilitate the co-governance and co-ownership of public transport in what is increasingly becoming known as the Gauteng city region – an area where the province’s residents travel daily across metropolitan boundaries.
The GTA is also to facilitate greater equity and interoperability in respect of public transport in the Gauteng city region.
The responsibilities of the GTA will include the integration of public transport planning across local boundaries, which includes determining the norms and standards to which all public transport must adhere; managing road-based public transport functions, which includes the contracting and management of subsidised contracts, as well as the enforcement actions associated with the regulation and control of road-based public transport operations.
To enable the GTA to manage road-based public transport functions, government’s Public Transport Operations Grant needs to be devolved to it in the medium term, says Van der Merwe. This currently amounts to around R2.3-billion a year in Gauteng.
Once a new Gauteng Transport Infrastructure and Operations Fund has been established, this fund should also be managed by the GTA.
Gauteng’s various commuter, metropolitan and rapid rail systems should all be managed by the Gautrain Management Agency, adds Van der Merwe, but in coordination with the GTA, in order to optimise integration.
The Rail White Paper envisages devolving the responsibility for urban rail operations down to municipalities, he adds.
In practice, the establishment of the GTA in Gauteng means the birth of an authority that would, for example, over time create public transport law enforcement capacity; develop standard contracts for buses, BRTs and taxis; collate all subsidies and prioritise spending, as well as act as a single point of contact with National Treasury on operational and capital expenditure priorities.
It should, in the end, facilitate improved, seamless public transport systems in Gauteng.
The GTA will be governed by a board of 12 directors, which will be representative of the authorities it is coordinating, says Van der Merwe.
The directors will include six representatives of the provincial and municipal government and six transport specialists with expertise in transport planning, transport infrastructure development, road-based and rail transport operations, transport economics, intelligent transport systems, nonmotorised transport and legal, financial and human resource management.
The GTA will report to the Gauteng executive council, the Gauteng Premier’s coordination forum and the metropolitan mayoral committees, says Van der Merwe.