Minibus taxis as part of a sustainable public transport system in South Africa
J. E. VAN ZYL University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Civil Engineering, Matieland, 7602 email@example.com
1. INTRODUCTION The minibus taxi industry in South Africa is currently carrying 65% of the country’s public transport passengers. It can therefore be described as the current perfect public transport solution for South African circumstances. Not taking away any positive influences that the recent initiatives like the Bus Rapid Transit, Gautrain, etc. will have on South Africa’s public transport, it should be stressed that the minibus taxi industry will have a big role to play in the future of a sustainable system in South Africa. Their role will mainly be to provide feeder services to larger carriers of people. Without a sustainable public transport system it will not be possible to provide for the future transport needs of the people of the world. The minibus taxi industry evolved out of a necessity for moving masses of people in the lower income group. The entrepreneurs who started the minibus taxi industry are all individual businessmen who made the most of the opportunity at the time. It is essential that when approaching the minibus taxi industry with new ideas it must be kept in mind that you are dealing with small business owners and not a public transport entity. With these principles in mind the author is conducting research on the effect of the implementation of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in the minibus taxi industry. 2. CURRENT INITIATIVES The South African public transport scene is currently undergoing considerable changes due to a number of factors. A major catalyst for these changes is the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup that will be hosted in several South African cities. One factor of these changes is the integration of all public transport modes which will have the result of all modes being controlled or at least monitored by central, authority controlled public transport back offices. The minibus taxi industry forms part of the initiatives and will also need to be monitored by authorities. The initiatives require that electronic on-board equipment must be installed on all public transport vehicles. Essentially the equipment will be used for monitoring the operations of public transport operators and the information gathered are used for controlling and planning purposes. 3. MINIBUS TAXI CHANGES Currently minibus taxis are licensed to operate along specific routes. Route identification numbers are displayed on the outside of the vehicles and the drivers are allowed to carry
passengers only along these routes. The route adherence by drivers is monitored by inspectors and other taxi drivers. With the introduction of electronic on-board equipment in the industry this monitoring can be done very accurately by authorities. Other aspects of the minibus taxi operations can also be monitored accurately like for instance driver behaviour, income generated per day/month and passenger movement patterns. This monitoring by authorities is not always found as desirable by the taxi owners and/or drivers as they sometimes see this as an infringement into their private business operations. In these cases the introduction of onboard equipment has a negative connotation. To change the aversion the taxi owners and drivers have to the introduction of on-board equipment the author fitted a minibus taxi with equipment which runs several Intelligent Transport System (ITS) applications. The taxi is allowed to operate under normal circumstances. The aim is to illustrate the positive effects that the implementation of ITS applications can have on the private minibus taxi owner’s business operations. The on-board equipment is modular in order for the author to add and remove different applications. Applications essential for the inclusion in future initiatives planned by the transport authorities are included and demonstrated to the...
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