MyCiTi drives passengers up the wall

Commuters queue at the last MyCiTi bus stop, Sesame, on AZ Berman Drive, before the bus hits the R300 for the Civic Centre.

MyCiTi commuters at the Sesame bus stop on AZ Berman Drive in Lentegeur, the last stop before the bus hits the R300, are at their wits’ end.

Those waiting at the bus stop from 6am find that it only arrives at 6.45am and is already full.

This means pupils attending school in Cape Town CBD, after taking a connecting bus, often have to run to get to school by 8.15am.

Workers have to be at the bus stop before 6am to try to be at work by 8am.

The buses are often full and commuters have to stand for the more than 20km journey to the Civic Centre.

Sauda Levy, who works across from the MyCiTi Civic Centre stop, says she has complained several times but feels as if her concerns are falling on deaf ears.

“Nothing has worked. The people need a solution,” she said.

Sadia Davids walks her 14-year-old granddaughter, who attends Harold Cressy High School, in Zonnebloem, to the bus stop every morning.

She said in an attempt to secure a place on the bus they have resorted to taking the bus going in the opposite direction, to the Town Centre, which then comes back to Sesame, on a circular route.

The bus route from Kapteinsklip station has 14 stops before it reaches Sesame, and the Mitchell’s Plain bus from the Town Centre has three stops.

But by the time the buses get to Sesame, they are almost full or completely full while more than a dozen commuters are hoping to climb aboard.

Two weeks ago, commuters were close to blows as those in the approaching bus did not fill the bus from the back, and those waiting at the bus stop forced them to the back to make space.

Ms Levy’s mother Nadia Levy said four different communities use Sesame bus stop: New Lentegeur, Philippi, Watergate and Woodlands residents.

“This is not fair. On top of this is the Central train line not working, so those people who use the train are also on the bus,” she said.

The Central train service has been suspended for over a month, leaving thousands of commuters seeking alternative transport.

Inshaaf Kenny, who lives a stone’s throw away from the bus stop, said her daughter, who is in Grade 11, uses the bus service from Mitchell’s Plain to the Civic Centre, and then takes another bus to get to Harold Cressy High School.

Her husband tries to take the 5.25am bus but it only arrives at 5.50am.

Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said they are aware that the MyCiTi N2 Express routes, between Mitchell’s Plain and the Civic Centre station, are “very busy” during the morning peak hour, from 6.45am to 8am.

“At this stage we are using all of the buses at our disposal during the busiest times to assist commuters,” he said.

Mr Herron said they have investigated all possibilities and have decided to start operating the service earlier on weekday mornings.

The first bus on the D04 routes is now departing at 4.20am, in order to meet the growing passenger demand along this route, where the Sesame stop is located.

In November, 57 001 passenger journeys were recorded on the D04 route, between Kapteinsklip and the Civic Centre, with an average of 822 passenger journeys recorded during the morning peak hour.

Similarly in November, about half of that number, 21 161 passenger journeys were recorded on the D03 route, between Mitchell’s Plain East and the Civic Centre, with an average of 628 passenger journeys during the morning peak hour.

In the last two years, passenger journeys on the four N2 Express routes, the two from Mitchell’s Plain, and the other from Khayelitsha to the Civic Centre has nearly doubled, from 111 109 in November 2015 to 219 157 in November last year.

Mr Herron said the exceptional growth of the MyCiTi passenger numbers in Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha coincided with the deterioration of the Metrorail Central line over the same period.

On Friday February 9 the City, the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works, rail experts, business leaders, Metrorail and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), met to partner and help stabilise the service.

The partners agreed to establish a dedicated enforcement unit to focus on the safety and security of Metrorail commuters.