Councillors furious with 9th place

Councillors fumed last week as they learnt that Kraaifontein lies way down the priority list of areas set to benefit from a public transport plan it’s hoped will ease mounting traffic congestion.

City official Keresha Naidoo brought the unwelcome news to Sub-council 2 at its meeting on Thursday April 19 that Kraaifontein was ninth on a list of ten priority areas scheduled for the roll-out of the integrated public transport network plan .

Ms Naidoo presented the plan, which works on a projected completion date of 2032 and aims to make transport more accessible to residents by integrating, upgrading and launching trunk and feeder transport routes.

“It’s never pleasant to have to say ‘you are ninth on the list’. That was never going to go down well,” Ms Naidoo said.

According to the plan, there are two upgrades that would affect Northern News readers the most.

The first is the Blue Downs train line link, connecting the central lines to Bellville.

This upgrade is higher up on the list but would affect fewer northern suburbs residents.

Ms Naidoo could not confirm whether the link included a station at Bloekombos, which residents have repeatedly asked for.

She said the station locations would be determined later, and she explained that the plan, which is due for an update later in the year, focussed on which routes needed to be prioritised but the time frame was “fluid”.

The nitty-gritties, such as where stations would be, how they would link to feeder routes and how frequently there would be buses or trains, would all be determined later through public participation.

The plan also showed the city’s residential-to-commercial ratio and how it affected commuting and, ultimately, the plan’s priority list.

A city map showed where the mostly densely populated areas were – represented by red dots – and where the most commercial development was taking place – green dots. The biggest concentration of red dots was in townships and central suburbs.

The northern suburbs showed a better balance of dots, but Ms Naidoo said that future projections, especially with the large amount of planned housing developments for the area, meant that bigger red dots were coming that way.

The presentation finished with a list of 10 priority transport upgrades, on which the T19 trunk route linking Kraaifontein to Century City was ninth on the list.

Unhappy councillors fired dozens of questions at Ms Naidoo asking how the data used in the decision making had been collected.

Councillor Caryn Brynard said: “I am deeply perturbed by what I’ve seen here today, and I would be failing my residents if I kept quiet.”

Ms Brynard then described how bad the traffic congestion had become in the northern suburbs.

“If you get on the N1 at 5.30 in the morning, there are cars as far as the eye can see,” she said, describing how drivers leaving the area sat two and a half hours in traffic and how rude an awakening it had been for her to take a train instead.

“The trains are over full and the seats are broken,” she said.

Sub-council manager Grant Twigg said: “I must express my disappointment. I can’t have a sub-council supporting development when we don’t have the transport infrastructure to support it.”

Councillor Marian Nieuwoudt recommended that the councillors put their concerns in writing to the City.

The Northern News asked the City what other plans were in the pipeline to ease congestion in the northern suburbs.

Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said R750 million had been committed over a five-year period for road infrastructure projects at “major pressure points”.

“Our information shows that commuters in the Kuils River, Kommetjie and Blaauwberg areas travel on average twice as long during the peak period, compared with the off-peak period, to reach their destinations. The peak period in these areas extends for three hours as compared with the two hours elsewhere in the city. These areas, therefore, are the first pressure points that are being addressed by the City.”