Commuters and taxi operators are up in arms over the proposed toll fees that would be an additional burden for cash-strapped consumers already faced with rising fuel and food prices.
Their anger and anxiety have been fuelled by comments from Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele who was quoted as saying “if you don’t like the toll roads, hop on a taxi, a bus or a train instead”.
Ndebele’s utterances have been criticised as a sign of arrogance from someone who is clearly out of touch with the realities of the public transport system.
“That’s crazy,” said Morse Motha, national training manager for the Molteno Institute, who travels from Silverton to Joburg daily.
“I am now looking for work closer to home because there is no way I will be able to afford this. I have calculated that it will cost me R1 660 before a discount, R1 260 after.
“When I include my petrol, an average of about R2 000, it jumps to R3 260 a month. In 10 months, it will be more than R32 000. That’s crazy”.
Public transport is not an option for him either.
“Gautrain will not have the necessary capacity to deal with the volumes of commuters and, besides, it will have a fixed route and times. It is not worth it. It will be better for me to find work closer to home.”
A Mamelodi businessman said early indications were that he would pay about R95 a day, which would push up his travelling costs as he already paid about R2 500 for fuel.
“Look, the new roads look good and we understand that we all have to pay. But the fees are far too high,” he said
He said taxis were not feasible as he had to visit different places everyday. There was no bus service between the capital and Joburg, and even if there was, it would not be suitable for the kind of travelling he did.
And the Gautrain? “I will give it a try. But it also depends on the fare and time schedules.”
For Roy Devenish, the biggest deterrent to using the Gautrain is the time it would take to get from the Menlyn area to a station in the city centre, Hatfield, or Centurion in order to catch a train, and again getting from Park Station in Joburg to Auckland Park, and whether this added travel time would be more or less than delays now experienced on the road.
He is waiting for more details of the Gautrain and will certainly consider it as an alternative means of getting to and from work.
Cathy Shaw, who lives in north-western Joburg and travels to Centurion for meetings, said: “To suggest that one can use public transport is ludicrous. From where to where? First, there’s the issue of getting to Sandton to catch a train; then there’s getting from Centurion to where I need to be, which is sometimes more than one place, which is impossible without a car.
“Second, there’s the issue of safety. As a woman, travelling alone or in a lift club, it is dangerous enough to do the trip by car, but I would not feel safe, especially at night, using a series of public transport. And third, there’s timing. I have to go to a meeting and be back in Joburg in time to fetch children. I simply don’t have the time for public transport,” she said.
She is also concerned that her parents, who live in Pretoria, won’t be able to visit her as often as before.
Aside from the high cost of petrol, the toll fee is R72, or around R40 off-peak, which has to be added to the high cost of fuel. - Pretoria News