Next month will be known as public transport month. A lot of things will be said, a lot of promotions will be made, a lot of agendas will be set and possibly a few imbizos here and there.
I've been to some of those imbizos and heard, read, seen many things and most of them barely touch on the ideas I have about public transport.
Firstly note that I am speaking here not as a public transport expert, which I am not, I am speaking here as a commuter. I haven't owned a car since 2004 and technology willing I am hoping I will never have to.
Lets call this a public transport manifesto that I/we will refer to in the coming years to see if things do change or they stay the same, but, make no mistake, I do not fully know everything about the policies that are in play or are on the table; the ideas others have; yes, you may call me naive, if it pleases the court.
With that disclaimer out of the way, here they are: only three, plus one:
Public transport should always be available regardless of time or space. Yes, this requires a bit of money to realise but money does not mean it is impossible, it only means we have to find sustainable (and innovative) ways of running our public transport around the clock. Maybe not around the clock but 16 to 20 hours in a day, e.g: from 5am to 2am; or ideally, I think, between 5am to 3am.
Isn't an 'always available' public transport going to meet some (if not most) of 'Arrive Alive' goals? Drinking and driving we all know will be at a minimum if public transport was always available, especially after phuza thirstay.
In the years and months I have been gathering public transport data and information I have realised a lack of consistency in communication from service providers to routes; to schedules and costs. Almost every single one has a different way of representing the same thing visually and analytically (schedules/costs): bus stop; train station;
But what is fascinating is that as far as my memory can recall there isn't a single visual: fly, banner, website/application (well, until awayto.be), kiosks that informs you about teksis (mini-bus taxis); and considering 65% of all commuters use them.
There needs to be common visual narrative to communicate public transport; and to my own selfish interest there needs to be a standard way of representing that data in a digital format. The google inspired american version does not work in the context of Africa and its innovative way of providing unregulated public transport via mini-bus taxis.
No gaps. This is something that is being spoken of more and more often. The planned introduction of a commuter 'universal card' is an example — will it be linked to the department of home affairs' new identity card? I am not sure, but it should.
By this I mean there should be a way for me to move from Alexandra to the Voortrekker Museum in Pretoria with a maximum gap of 400m allowed for walking between stops, yes?
This integration should apply to information systems, yes awayto.be has achieved that. But, that should not be limited to one sole individual but government institutions should have the same type of information integration.
Thats them. All of these –which is where the +1 comes in— are driven by this simple idea:
public transport should be invisible — that is to say, I should only think about where I want to be and go.