A community group vows to fight Metrorail price increases

Train schedule board in Cape Town showing most trains were running late. Photo: Mzi Velapi.

Public Transport Voice, a community based organization in Khayelitsha has launched a campaign to fight the proposed ticket hike by Metrorail. The organisation says that about 4,000 people signed a petition against Metrorail’s annual ticket price increases in Khayelitsha.

Khayelitsha, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

“We strongly believe that there must be minimum norms and standards in improving the train transport system. We also  demand that the trains must be more affordable,” said Zingisani Nkanjeni from the Public Transport Voice. They are concerned that the Metrorail infrastructure is not disability friendly and that there are many criminal activities taking place on trains and at train stations. “If these price hikes continue, most poor and marginalised communities will be badly affected,” said Nkanjeni.

Currently, train commuters in the central region encompassing, Khayelitsha, Mitchell’s Plain and Tafelsig experience early year nightmares by Metrorail. This was exacerbated by a recent strike by Metrorail workers led by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, SATAWU in Cape Town.

Train commuters walking on railway tracks because of train delays. Photo: Public Transport Voice.

As early as February the trains started being delayed inconveniencing people from arriving early at work and home on time. This also affected school children. Some commuters feel that Metrorail is mismanaged and needs help from other public transport operations like taxis and buses.

Yonela Masumpa, a commuter from Town Two, Khayelitsha, says she has had to spend her lunch money on transport because of train delays. “Trains are delayed all the time. As I leave home in the morning to go to work, I already know that there’s going to be a delay. I think Prasa should find a way to make a partnership with the taxis because its obvious that they are failing.

Metrorail however says the problem is caused mainly by vandalism and arson. Earlier in April a train was torched at Cape Town station. “We have been experiencing delays of up to 15 minutes owing to arson and vandalism. Unfortunately this affects our commuters negatively as they have to use alternative transport. We would like to work with other providers as well but unfortunately there hasn’t been an agreement between us and Golden Arrow Bus Services,” stated a Metrorail official.

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Anelisa Lungisa who reecently found a job at a takeaway shop cries that she has no other alternative but to use trains as she earns such a little money. “If I were to use a bus or taxi for example, it means all my money I would have to use on transport. Metrorail, if they see  that they cannot manage to ferry us, they must speak to Codeta and pay taxis to transport us. The taxis are quick and they love money at Codeta.”

The ticket price increase by Metrorail is expected to be effective as from the 1st of July 2016.

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