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Rea Vaya expands its services

A NEW complementary service was added to Rea Vaya's Soweto offering on Monday, 15 March, and residents seem happy with the addition.

The feeder routes take passengers to stations on the main routes. The complementary service runs directly from Dobsonville to the Johannesburg CBD and Ellis Park Station and feeder services transport passengers from Naledi to Thokoza Park Station, from Jabavu to Lake View Station, and from Mofolo to Boomtown Station.

On Monday, Diepkloof Zone 3 Station on the Soweto Highway was buzzing with queues of people waiting to board Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) buses. They arrived just minutes after one another, with people tidily boarding.

One commuter at the stop, Tshepo Rakosa, said: "I know BRT won't let me down and that's why I was happy when the government introduced another mode of transport in the township."

Another, Kagiso Mampe, said: "The transport you use should be convenient for you. I'm going to Eastgate, so when I get to town I'll use the Metrobus. Metrobus has monthly tickets and I think BRT should introduce them too."

And Lindokutlhe Masilela said: "I usually use taxis to get to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital ... but [they] are on strike. I can't wait till there's a route to the hospital."

Rea Vaya was officially launched by Executive Mayor Amos Masondo and Minister of Transport Sibusiso Ndebele on 30 August 2009. The addition of routes to complete phase 1A with feeder and complementary buses, was marked by violence and striking taxi drivers on 15 March. However, Rea Vaya continued its services and also handled the increased number of passengers.

Rea Vaya has met resistance from some quarters in the taxi industry.

An angry Mpho Manana, also waiting for a bus at the Diepkloof Zone 3 Station, said: "I don't understand why the taxi people can't co-exist with BRT because this is not a dictatorship and they cannot monopolise the mode of transport in the township. I use both BRT and taxis because they meet my needs differently."

In a statement on the expansion of routes, the member of the mayoral committee for transport, Rehana Moosajee, said the City had experienced some "first day" challenges.

 "A big city such as Johannesburg requires a mixture of complementary modes of transport - trains, rapid buses, taxis and private transport. It is the right of the commuter to choose which service they want to use," she said.

Feeder buses take passengers to the closest Rea Vaya station on the main route, from where they are able to catch a bus that goes along the dedicated trunk route to town. Tickets for this route cost R9,50 to Ellis Park.

Complementary buses travelling from Dobsonville join the trunk route at Orlando Stadium. The buses take passengers straight to town without the need to change vehicle. Tickets for this trip cost R6.

The next Rea Vaya routes will be introduced on 3 May and will include an additional complementary service directly from Dobsonville to Maponya Mall and feeder services from Protea Glen to Thokoza Park Station and from Eldorado Park to Thokoza Park Station. A CBD distribution service will be reintroduced to link the trunk services with Braamfontein, the University of the Witwatersrand and Hillbrow.

Also from 3 May, all service times will be extended and the last buses will depart at 10.40pm. Sunday services will also be introduced on all routes. The feeder and complementary buses will stop at more than 170 bus stops along the routes.