Let the metros run passenger rail services‚ says Maimane

26 August 2017 - 13:19 By Timeslive
Democratic Alliance's Mmusi Maimane. File photo
Democratic Alliance's Mmusi Maimane. File photo
Image: Sunday Times / Waldo Swiegers

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane has urged the government to let DA-led metro governments run passenger rail networks in those cities.

Speaking at the Transport and Mobility Summit in Nelson Mandela Bay on Friday evening‚ Maimane said it made no sense that such a vital public service was run by people who were totally unaccountable to the public.

“In many ways this is similar to the SAA story‚ but with trains‚ not planes. And frankly‚ the implications for poverty and economic growth are far more profound than with a failing airline.”

Maimane added that national government had an opportunity to fix this in its new National Rail Strategy by assigning the management of Metrorail to the cities.

“So let me issue a sincere call to national government here: let DA-led metro governments run passenger rail networks in those cities. Give us the opportunity to run an efficient‚ well-run‚ accountable passenger train service and I promise you we will not let you down‚” he said..

He added that efficient transport drove economic inclusion‚ bringing people to places of opportunity‚ and connecting employers with the unemployed.

“While most middle-class residents in suburbs have a relatively short and inexpensive commute to their work‚ poor South Africans in outlying townships find themselves spending up to 40% of their income just to get to work and back.

“But it’s not only the cost or the inconvenience of the commute that holds people back. Poor families also suffer because they are robbed of their time together.”

Maimane outlined how the DA had improved bus services in cities like Cape Town.

“But bus routes will only get us so far. To truly unlock the potential of our cities‚ we must get our people back onto trains in great numbers. Because‚ when properly run‚ commuter rail holds the key to connecting the bulk of our people with economic opportunities.”