DAR service is oversubscribed

Felicity Purchase, mayoral committee member for transport

The City of Cape Town is the only municipality in the country that provides a public transport service for persons who have special needs and are unable to access conventional or mainstream public transport.

The City is committed to the service and continues to deliver it despite budget constraints and other challenges.

The City introduced the Dial-A-Ride (DAR) service in 1998 as a demonstration project for Cape Town’s 2004 Olympic Bid.

The DAR service is a public-transport service for people with disabilities who are unable to access mainstream public transport. The service is provided within the municipal boundaries of the City of Cape Town.

The service has the capacity to transport approximately
2 347 passengers, approximately 7 700 trips per month, when it is operating at its peak optimal levels.

It is operated by an external services provider on behalf of the City of Cape Town, referred to as the operator.

Applicants wanting to make use of the Dial-A-Ride service are required to complete an application form which is available on the City’s website.

Thereafter, they are required to undergo an assessment conducted by an independent occupational therapist in order to determine whether the applicant is able to use conventional public transport services or not.

DAR users are categorised as regular users who use the service on a daily basis to travel to work and school, regular ad-hoc users who use the service at least three times a week for hospital visits,and ad-hoc users who use the service for travelling to church, to name a few.

Before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the service transported about 350 regular users, and up to 2 270 passengers on an ad-hoc basis.

The service is integrated with that of the MyCiTi bus service, which also accommodates passengers in wheelchairs – buses can accommodate at least one wheelchair user at a time.

The service is currently oversubscribed, and new applicants must unfortunately be added to a waiting list.

There are 2 300 users who are eligible to use the DAR service, meaning, these users have been assessed by an occupational therapist who confirmed that they are unable to make use of conventional public transport.

The City is committed to ensuring that all commuters, especially those unable to board mainstream public transport, are able to move around Cape Town.

The need for a transport mode for those who cannot make use of conventional public transport due to special needs is big throughout the greater Cape. Thus, isolating specific groups will not be fair.

The City and the provincial government have recognised the need and over the past 12 years adjusted the funding to assist.

There is a need for a collective approach within the industry to positively affect the shortcomings in the transversal sector.

Cost is calculated on a km rate which users pay according to their travelling request.

Discussions are ongoing in various forums, including
the provincial Department of Transport on a comprehensive approach to this challenge and need.