Golden Arrow fights back

Golden Arrow Bus Services (GABS) is adamant its buses are well within their legal operating rights in Grandiflora Street, in Protea Valley, Welgemoed.

Northern News reported last week that Sub-council 3 resolved to seek internal legal opinion from the City of Cape Town to establish whether Golden Arrow was operating legally within the area (“Sub-council takes legal route on bus service,” Northern News, June 2). Golden Arrow spokeswoman Bronwen Dyke-Beyer said they were aware of the issues raised by some residents in Protea Valley.

“We investigate every complaint. Despite our best efforts, it has become painfully clear that some individuals will not rest until our buses are removed from the area,” she said.

The issue was raised by Ward 70 councillor Andrea Crous at a sub-council meeting in Goodwood on Thursday May 19.

“This issue has been on the agenda since 2011. There has been many meetings with various role-players, including officials from the City and provincial government, but the issue is yet to be resolved,” Ms Crous said.

Ms Dyke-Beyer said Golden Arrow operated lawfully in the area and had done so for more than 20 years.

“There is no legal basis for removing buses from this particular route.”

Any claims to the contrary, she said, were simply unfounded and showed a clear lack of understanding of the company’s contract with the provincial Department of Transport and the provisions of the operating licences.

Ms Dyke-Beyer said a census by the department after a sub-council meeting in July 2015 had found that the number of buses could not be reduced, that an amended route would require passengers to walk long distances and that there was notable support for the service from the community. It also found that Golden Arrow buses were not breaking the speed limit. But Protea Valley resident Trevor Macaskill disagrees.

“This has been an ongoing problem for years. They travel down this narrow steet, Grandiflora, with great speed. Most of the time the buses are empty.”

He added: “Because of the trees growing into the street, they have to travel in the middle of the road.This poses a danger for other road users.”

Mr Macaskill said the specific road was narrow and not designed for such large vehicles.

“I have also seen how they have to slam on brakes for animals and children,” he said.

Provincial Department of Transport and Public Works spokesman Byron la Hoe said the department has received several complaints and queries from residents ranging from buses speeding, buses being empty when driving through the area, buses being the cause of traffic congestion, as well as whether Golden Arrow’s permit allows it to operate in the area.

“All of these were addressed at different levels including the sub-council. The complaints with regards to speeding of buses were investigated by utilising our route master system, whereby we were able to disprove this complaint,” he said.

Mr La Hoe said traffic calming measures in the area were discussed with the City, which proposed speed humps.

“This was discussed with the councillor, but no conclusion was reached in terms of the way forward. We did a passenger census during the course of last year to verify the complaint of empty buses and traffic congestion. Following the census, a presentation was done to share the findings with the sub-council and to advise them that there was no legitimate reason to withdraw the buses. In as far as it relates to the legal opinion, the sub-council was specifically advised that they should request a copy of the opinion from the provincial regulatory entity (PRE).”

Mr La Hoe said there had previously been talks between the City and the Department of Transport regarding the contract operated by Golden Arrow.

He said the contract was administered by the Department of Transport and Public Works. Mr La Hoe said in terms of legislation the operating licence issued must be specific and the regulatory entity must issue an operating licence for every vehicle mentioned in the contract.

He said not all the routes were specified in detail and the National Land Transport Regulations (2009) made provision for the non-detailed specification of routes.

Golden Arrow, he said, could provide scheduled commuter services within a radius of 67km from the place of business. This covers Grandiflora Street.

Ms Dyke-Beyer said Golden Arrow had a responsibility to ensure “that our passengers have access to dignified and reliable transport services so they are able to access the area, in which they work, live and study. It is unconscionable to expect people to walk long distances during the upcoming rainy season simply because of baseless accusations and misinformation”.