Cape Town - Sixty-four percent of Capetonians living in wards that previously had access to passenger rail services have now lost that access, and only 36% of residents still have access to a working train station in the ward where they live.
This is according to DA City of Cape mayoral candidate Geordin Hill-Lewis who revealed the news while announcing the sixth of the party’s seven pledges in the lead up to the municipal elections.
The six pledge from the DA is that they “are committed to making public transport work by fighting for control over railways and funding to expand the MyCiTi bus service”.
“It is no secret that large parts of Cape Town’s rail network has collapsed. But new analysis done by the DA shows the true extent to which the national government, through Metrorail, has destroyed Cape Town’s train system.
“Our analysis mapped all of the wards in the city through which either the northern, central or southern railway lines run. We then calculated how many of those wards have lost access because the lines running through those wards have stopped working due to land invasions, collapsed infrastructure, and vandalism,” Hill-Lewis said.
“Today I can report that Metrorail has collapsed to such a staggering extent that 64% of Capetonians living in wards that previously had access to passenger rail services have now lost that access.
“Today, only 36% of residents still have access to a working train station in the ward where they live,” he said.
Hill-Lewis highlighted that this collapse hit some of the poorest communities in Cape Town the hardest.
He said that more than 1.1 million people lived in wards adjacent to the central line on the Cape Flats, including neighbourhoods like Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain but that 97.7% of them no longer had access to rail transport.
“In total, nearly 2 million people in Cape Town live in wards that should have access to passenger rail services. But the central line now terminates at Langa, the southern line runs no further than Retreat, and the northern line ends at Thornton – with Bellville only accessible via Century City.
“Decades of mismanagement by the national government, including during the past two years of lockdown, has all but destroyed Cape Town’s passenger rail system,” he said.
“That is why the DA is today committing to intensifying our fight to take control over Cape Town’s train system. We believe that the boundaries of the Constitution have not yet been properly tested on this matter.”
He explained that municipal public transport was an area of local government competence, and Section 156 (5) provided that a municipality “has the right to exercise any power concerning a matter reasonably necessary for, or incidental to, the effective performance of its functions”.
“With the support of voters on 1 November, the DA will test and redefine these boundaries in our quest to take control over Cape Town’s train system.
“As we do so, we will also engage with private sector partners to prepare for a future rail system run through private concessions,” Hill-Lewis said.
Earlier this year, the Cape Argus reported how the public transport system in the province, and especially Cape Town, has all but collapsed (Cape Town's public transport is in crisis and commuters are 'left in the lurch').
The passenger rail system is at an almost complete standstill because of vandalism and railway invasions, the Golden Arrow Bus Services (Gabs) beset by robberies and arson, the minibus taxi industry engulfed in open warfare and a major route of the MyCiTi bus service halted since last year.
Transport and Public Works MEC Daylin Mitchell, when he was still chairperson of the Standing Committee on Transport and Public Works in the provincial legislature, had also noted with concern the 80% decrease in train usage over the past eight years (Concern over sharp drop in train usage in the Western Cape).
Mitchell said that equated to 550 000 people having sought alternative means of transport.