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Rea Vaya makes taxi men rich

08 March 2016 - 02:49 By Olebogeng Molatlhwa

Taxi owners are striking it rich through Johannesburg's bus rapid transit system, popularly known as Rea Vaya. The owners of 317 minibus taxis were paid R263-million for agreeing to have their vehicles taken off the road. Each owner pocketed about R830,000 per taxi, referred to as compensation for restraint of trade, a condition for removing the taxi off the road in favour of Rea Vaya buses.The 317 taxis make way for Phase 1B of Rea Vaya, which ferries passengers from Soweto through Noordgesig, Pennyville, Riverlea, Bosmont, Coronationville, Newclare, Westbury, Westdene, Melville, Auckland Park, Parktown and Braamfontein to the central business district.In addition to the compensation, taxi owners will also be paid R2.6-billion, or R221-million annually, to operate the bus system for the next 12 years.The City of Johannesburg signed an agreement in June 2015 with operating company Ditsamaiso for the operation of routes along Phase 1B. Negotiations lasted two years, resulting in affected taxi and bus operators becoming shareholders in Rea Vaya.Phase 1A and 1B of the Rea Vaya project was built at an estimated cost of R3-billion, but despite the huge amounts spent, the bus system is unable to reach the required passenger volumes for a system of its kind because of a lack of adequate passengers along the routes.The city's executive director of transportation, Lisa Seftel - speaking last year at the Transport Forum Month of Transport Celebrations held at the University of Johannesburg - said Rea Vaya was exposed to about 10000 commuters who could use the service along Johannesburg corridors...

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