Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has commended Rea Vaya for adhering to the capacity limit prescribed for public transport operators during the lockdown, as Joburg’s mass transit system ramps-up measures to minimise the risk of Covid-19 infections.
Mbalula joined the Executive Mayor, Geoff Makhubo, the City’s Transport MMC Nonhlanhla Makhuba, and Jacob Mamabolo, the Gauteng MEC for Public Transport and Road Infrastructure on an early morning oversight inspection of Rea Vaya’s Dobsonville depot on Thursday, 21 May.
The Minister’s visit comes a week after he responded to public criticism that Rea Vaya was flouting social distancing regulations by operating at full capacity. Mbalula threatened to halt operations if buses continued to contravene the Disaster Management Act.
“During our visit last time we found discrepancies with regards to social distancing. I then met with the CEO and management of Rea Vaya and they made commitments,” he says.
Since then, Joburg’s mass transit bus system has reconfigured seating arrangements inside all buses to compel passengers to adhere to physical distancing measures when travelling between Soweto and Johannesburg. All Rea Vaya seats marked with an X sign cannot be occupied and the bus system will no longer allow passengers to travel while standing to ensure full compliance with lockdown regulations aimed at helping public transport commuters avoid transmitting or contracting Covid-19.
“[I’m] pleased that seats are now clearly marked and [Rea Vaya] is adhering to the capacity limit as per the regulations,” says Mbalula.
Mayor Makhubo says Rea Vaya will continue to adhere to lockdown regulations. “All Rea Vaya buses are sanitized at regular intervals and drivers have been kitted with personal protective equipment to ensure bus users are safe from contracting or transmitting Covid-19,” he says.
MMC Makhuba has thanked the company operating Rea Vaya buses and the JMPD for ensuring that the system complies with lockdown regulations. “We’ll continue to prioritise the safety of our commuters and Rea Vaya staff,” she says.
Under level 4 lockdown stipulations, each Rea Vaya bus is only permitted to operate at a minimum capacity to ensure social distancing. Arctic trunk buses (T1, T3) with a carrying capacity of 119 will now carry 28 passengers from Thokoza Park to the Joburg CBD and feeder buses, with a seating capacity of 82 may only ferry 21 passengers.
Rea Vaya has installed full-body sanitizing and screening booths at the Thokoza and Orlando Stations in Soweto, which also scan the temperature of each commuter who passes through before boarding a bus. Frontline staff are also sanitized at all stations.
Makhuba says temperature monitors will soon be introduced at all stations to screen every passenger.