Gautrain links city to big future
Almost two years to the day the Gautrain started running, commuters were finally able to take the four-minute ride from Rosebank to the Johannesburg CBD on Thursday.
The Gauteng government is not only celebrating the opening of the final Gautrain station, 15 years in the planning, but is already planning to expand the "middle-class" railway.
Gauteng MEC for transport Ismail Vadi told journalists at the launch of the Johannesburg Park Station route that the province was already thinking "where to from here".
He said engineers were deciding whether it was feasible to link the Gautrain to the 23km, 23-station Metrorail route around Pretoria to form an integrated public transport system in the capital city.
"The infrastructure is in place. It would be a great scheme to revitalise and revamp transport in Pretoria and hook up with the Bus Rapid Transport system planned to open next year," Vadi said.
Jack van der Merwe, CEO of the Gauteng Management Agency - which manages the train on behalf of the province - said although extensions would take a long time to make, it was planning for the new route.
"A final decision will be made in about two years' time," he said.
Van der Merwe said he hoped the number of Gautrain passengers would increase from the current 35000 to 42000 a day.
Gautrain user Jaco Cronje said he knew about 20 people in his Braamfontein offices who were considering taking the Gautrain now that it went into the city.
The City of Johannesburg is hoping the Gautrain will bring investment and contribute to a different type of city.
Member of the mayoral committee for transport Rehana Moosajee said: "We want the CBD to become a pedestrian hub in which mass transit is the preferred option. We must find a way to decongest the inner city.
"It is significant that the Gautrain goes into the heart of the inner city. It is the beginning of the integrated transport system in Johannesburg."
The city opened the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transport station at Park Station three weeks ago, allowing commuters to step off the Gautrain and catch a bus into the city or to Braamfontein, Ellis Park or Soweto.
Moosajee said sellers in the city were now advertising their properties in relation to the public transport route.