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The City of Johannesburg's five-year-old Rea Vaya bus rapid transit (BRT) system has been nominated for the C40 City Climate Leadership Awards.
The City's Executive Mayor, Councillor Parks Tau, departs for New York City on Saturday to attend the awards ceremony, which will be held at the Manhattan Centre on Monday.

The nomination comes after the City hosted the fifth biennial C40 Mayors' Summit in February, during which it unveiled its first two buses powered by a combination of biogas and diesel. It was also the first time that the summit was held on the African continent.

During the event, mayors from across the globe had the opportunity to experience the local BRT system.

"This nomination is testimony that as a City we are on track to creating a resilient and sustainable environment for our citizens as expressed in our 2040 Growth and Development Strategy," says Mayor Tau.

"The Rea Vaya BRT system is one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken by the City to improve our public transport system and reduce congestion on our public roads. However, its most crucial element is its capacity to reduce carbon emissions.

"If 15% of car users within the Rea Vaya corridor switch to this system, an equivalent of about 380 000 tons of CO₂ emissions per annum can be achieved."

He estimates that once the BRT system is fully operational across the City, it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by six million tons of CO₂₋ₑ by 2030. The bus fleet for the first phase of the BRT system implementation was of Euro IV emission standards. The second fleet also met the Euro V standards. The City is now set to launch a new dual-fuel fleet for the third phase in 2016 while it explores the idea of extensively using the biogas and diesel combination. This is particularly because it can be sourced locally and foster job creation.

During his four-day working visit to the United States Mayor Tau will also attend the C40 annual in-person steering committee meeting. He will, among other things, attend a private meeting with the former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, in his current capacity as the UN Special Envoy on Cities and Climate Change, as well as C40 President and Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes, to discuss mayoral leadership issues and the work of the C40 Cities ahead of COP21 climate change summit to be held in Paris, France, in December next year.

Mayor Tau will have a courtesy meeting with Cllr Chen Jianhua, the Mayor of the Chinese city of Guangzhou to discuss Metropolis, an international association of the leadership of cities and urban regions with more than a million residents each.

Also on the agenda will be the Barcelona-based United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), an association of major metropolises that sponsors the Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation.

This year the awards will be presented in that city in November.

Mayor Tau will also have an opportunity to meet Cllr Qin Xu, the Mayor of Shenzhen, another Chinese city, to discuss various issues of common interest.