Author:vaughan-mostert

Advice for Bombardier

I think it’s a great idea for major suppliers of public transport equipment to express opinions on how to improve the industry, but a recent article by the MD of Bombardier is perplexing The business section of City Press on April 21 carried an article of some significance for public transport in South Africa. Headed “Getting cities on track”, it was written by Aubrey Lekwane, the MD of Bombardier SA. Bombardier is a big player in public transport in many […]

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Have we learnt anything since 2015?

How did we allow Eskom, SAA and e-tolls to get us into such a mess? We are all partly to blame for our failure to ask questions during the early stages of these grand schemes Passenger rail is one of my favourite topics. President Ramaphosa recently took some rides on our Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) trains. His first trip, north of Pretoria, took three hours instead of 30 minutes. On his second trip, in Cape Town, he […]

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Turkeys voting for Christmas?

Many South Africans have said that they won’t be bothering to vote in the upcoming elections. When it comes to public transport, they have a point, because no political party has shown much interest in fixing it. Any public transport users hoping that either of the two biggest political parties – the ANC or the DA – will help them are like turkeys voting for Christmas. That’s sad, because the lack of decent public transport in South Africa has economic […]

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Houston, we have a problem

…and so, too, does South Africa Who would have thought that this well-known quote is now almost 49 years old? Back in April 1970, Apollo 13 was on its way to land two astronauts on the moon when a malfunction forced the crew to abort. While the world held its breath, mission control in Houston worked with the crew to use the moon’s gravity to “whip” the stricken craft safely back to Earth. Today, Houston, itself, has a problem. Its […]

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Beware the hornet’s sting! 

Only a few days into the New Year, and here I am looking at bodies being carried away from the latest rail accident in Pretoria. This latest, regrettable incident reminds me of a quote from a Citylab correspondent describing Britain’s messy handling of Brexit. Britain is “a grown nation writhing and flailing through its decision-making with all the finesse of a drunk man being attacked by hornets”. That statement applies to many situations all over the world, including public transport […]

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Metrorail meltdown

Prasa’s woes mean the new Minister of Transport, Blade Nzimande, has to focus on constitutionality The timing was exquisite. Slap in the middle of October Transport Month, the Passenger Rail Agency (Prasa) came within 24 hours of being shut down everywhere. And some people still refer to rail as the backbone of public transport in South Africa!    Rescued at the last minute by a sympathetic judge, Prasa must now submit monthly reports to the Rail Safety Regulator (RSR) that […]

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It’s tough going it alone

Is the concept of owner-driver inherently false? Let’s look at two articles that appeared on consecutive days (August 21/22) in Business Day. One was written by Mark Barnes, CEO of the South African Post Office (SAPO), and the other by Alon Lits, Uber GM for sub-Saharan Africa. Barnes, who writes a regular column in Business Day, suggests that “corporates must create entrepreneurs. I recall SAB being a pioneer in the owner-driver schemes it launched. A truck … is a business. […]

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The parable of the China dolls

Here’s a parable that helps to explain how transport in all its forms is actually letting down the South African economy In addition to all the other shady deals, investigative journalists at amaBhungane have uncovered a cost overrun of R260 million on the class 20E, a dual-voltage electric locomotive forming part of the tender for 1 064 new locomotives for Transnet. The class 20E consists of 95 locomotives. Numbered 20 001 to 20 095, they have all been delivered and […]

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Of batteries, buses and boardroom buddies

Have electric buses gone backwards? A recent controversy involving a potential MyCiTi supplier might suggest so In January the City of Cape Town suspended its Transport Commissioner (TC). One of the reasons, according to The Citizen of January 19, was that the TC was “involved in unfairly advantaging a Chinese company … to secure a tender for electric MyCiTi buses”. Apparently “council officials met the company’s representatives in China and in the TC’s boardroom before the tender was advertised”. At […]

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Let’s save five billion litres!

How much higher will the fuel price have to go before someone starts saying enough is enough? R20 a litre? R30?   The days are long gone when transport actually boosted the South African economy. Today, the best that can be said for transport is that in some situations it helps to keep our economy going, but in many other situations it is so inefficient that the economy is being positively weakened. More than half of our annual fuel usage […]

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