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2011-02-22: New York transport experts to ride on Rea Vaya

JOHANNESBURG and New York are exchanging notes and experiences this week with a senior delegation from the "Big Apple" visiting the "City of Gold."

Transport and urban management issues will head the agenda during the visit by Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner of New York's Department of Transportation and Amanda Burden, the Chair of the City's Planning Commission.

On Friday (25 February) the New York delegates will accompany Councilor Rehana Moosajee, Johannesburg Member of the Mayoral Committee for Transport on a trip on the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit system – between the CBD and Vilakazi Street in Soweto.

Rea Vaya is a Johannesburg initiative designed to provide city residents with access to safe, fast and affordable public transport. The first phase was completed last year – in time for the 2010 Soccer World Cup – and construction on the phase 1B is on-going. 

In a pioneering move the City has signed an agreement with the taxi industry to transfer ownership and responsibility for operations to a company, Pio Trans, jointly owned by the taxi sector.

As New York's Commissioner of Transport since 2007 Ms Sadik-Khan is responsible for 9 600 km  of streets and highways, nearly 800 bridges, 1.3 million street signs, 300 000 streetlights and 12 000 traffic signals, as well as the Staten Island Ferry, carrying over 19 million passengers annually.

She has implemented a programme to improve safety, mobility and sustainability throughout New York City. This includes the promotion of public and non-motorised transport through the addition of 200 miles of bike lanes, car-free summer streets and weekend pedestrian walks. She is interested to learn about the BRT system because she thinks it will be viable for New York City.

An urban planner and civic activist, Ms Burden has spearheaded economic development initiatives with comprehensive urban design master plans designed to catalyse commercial and residential development throughout the city. Under her direction, the Department of City Planning has initiated rezoning plans that provide significant new housing opportunities.

Their visit to Johannesburg is hosted by the International Transport and Development Policy centre which promotes international exchange on issues of transport and who together with the South African Cities Network are also hosting an international exhibition entitled "Our Cities Ourselves".

MMC Moosajee says cities throughout the world share common challenges of  urbanisation, population growth, tight budgets and growing carbon emissions, with transportation and buildings responsible for around 75% of greenhouse gas emissions. 

New York City is rising to these challenges with a range of initiatives and the visitors will share their experiences with counterparts in Johannesburg.

Thursday's meeting will include a ride on the Rea Vaya service between the CBD and Soweto followed by a joint media conference at 11h30.

MMC Moosajee says Johannesburg decided to base its rapid transit network on a high-speed bus system similar to public networks operating in countries such as Colombia, Chile and Brazil.

Construction on the latest phase of Rea Vaya has started in the Johannesburg CBD. The construction work in Rissik and Harrison streets will take about 12 months to complete. Three stations are being built that will integrate Rea Vaya with the Gautrain network and Park station.


Issued by:
Nthatisi Modingoane
Deputy Director: Communications
Tel: (011) 407 7354
Fax: 403 3494
Cell: 082 467 9228