Be part of the change
At long last the Park Station leg of the Gautrain's Johannesburg-Pretoria route is complete. It will greatly improve the lives of commuters who work in the Johannesburg city centre or who study at Wits. However, not enough people are taking advantage of it.
Using public transport is key to making South Africa's cities more efficient, and cutting down on air pollution from motor vehicles. We all know our public transport infrastructure is appalling, mostly affecting displaced township dwellers and workers, who often spend half a day travelling to and from work. We all know we need to live greener, but doing it and making the change is not always easy.
But now that we at last have a major public investment like the Gautrain, we need to use it.
Getting off at Park Station recently, I was struck by the different choices on offer to complete my trip, with Rea Vaya and Gautrain buses, Metrorail and even long-distance passenger rail all close by. But the bus routes from the Gautrain stations are still a challenge. If you're not directly on the route, inevitably there is a bit of a walk or a taxi ride. Cycling is the obvious answer, but it's a hassle to get your bike on the train (it has to be wrapped, which is not easy). The City of Johannesburg is doing a feasibility study into a bicycle-exchange scheme, which will be a great way of leveraging off the Gautrain investment. But for the moment it is up to people themselves to come up with their own solutions.
I have heard some interesting stories about how people are responding to the problem. One Johannesburg friend bought a pair of takkies to walk from the Pretoria station to his government office. He is already looking fitter and healthier as a result. Another friend has gone in the opposite direction and bought a second car, leaving a car at each end of the route. You decide which one is moving in the wrong direction.
The interesting thing is how we each respond to this challenge, and slowly change the way we do things. Today think about riding your bicycle to work, or walking that extra block.
It's all part of the change we need to go through to make our cities better.