We are deeply concerned about Capetonian cost of living increases

Lester September,
Convenor- Transport Portfolio
GCTCA

Regarding your article on the increases faced by consumers (The New Age – Train commuters ‘sold out’ – Tuesday 3 March 2012). The Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance (GCTCA) is deeply concerned at the astronomical increases in the cost of living being faced by Capetonians. A 11% increase in electricity, municipal rates up by an average of 11 %, 15% increase in petrol between January and April 2012 , and a R30 average (or 13% increase) in monthly train fares, and significantly more than that in other classes of fares. While the 15% increase in fuel has been ascribed to rising international crude oil prices and to additional taxes, how does Metrorail justify a 13% and more increase in train fares?

Thankfully Cabinet has stated that the e-tolling of the N2 Winelands toll road has been cancelled, however National Treasury has stated that for the fuel levy to be ring fenced and cover, the 30-year road maintenance backlog, will require a further increase of R1/L. What is deeply disturbing is that there is no clean, efficient, safe and reliable public transport alternative as yet on the vast majority of main routes in Cape Town.

Though R100bn has been budgeted by National Treasury to re-capitalise Metrorail over a number of years, it seems the long suffering commuter is seemingly going to have to pay for this capital expenditure. Although the Cape Chamber of Commerce and COSATU. were able to negotiate reduced fares and a number of special concessions for pensioners and families on a Sunday it is concerning that they, took it upon themselves to negotiate with Metrorail increases in train fares, which are far above the inflation rate.

Why was civil society representation not sought in these negotiations? It is strange that Western Cape MEC for Transport Mr Robin Carlisle only now raises concerns, why was he not negotiating with Metrorail to make sure the huge increases were not introduced.

Bearing in mind Metrorail’s poor service delivery record, it is an insult to commuters for them to announce an increase; in fact they should be taking a cut. Metrorail has a monopoly on commuter rail and Golden Arrow is by far the most dominant bus operator in Cape Town, which is the reason for the unbelievable, concurrent poor level of services delivery and the increase announced. In fact the increase is surely an abuse of Metrorail’s market position? The solution is simple- , introduce partially local government assisted private competition, in all modes of public transport, which should initially bring down costs and over the long-term keep them low. Also the discovery of natural gas off Mozambique’s coast should spur SA national government to include this as an alternative low cost fuel at petrol stations.

It is with some relief to hear that the Minister of Transport has allowed the CoCT to have oversight over Metrorail. The GCTCA urges the CoCT, to speedily initiate the long awaited city wide transport regulator, with a composition of business (both large and small), labour and civil society representatives, which will among other regulate costs, but also open space for private competition in all modes of public transport.”

 

1 comment to We are deeply concerned about Capetonian cost of living increases

  • Mike Blake

    There is not one mention of emphasizing commuting by bicycle in this article. This would relieve traffic congestion and would aid each users’ pocketbook. If it seems too much effort, then electric bikes must be used.

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