The October month is designated a ‘Transport month’ and this provides an opportune moment for various spheres of governments and other players in the sector to evaluate and plan how to manage their road infrastructure networks as well as improve the overall travel experience of the road users.
One of the valuable tools that will come in handy is the 2019/20 Gauteng Households Transport Survey (GTHS), which reported on the outcomes of the household interviews related to the travel and mobility patterns in Gauteng.
The insight and data gleaned from the survey provides vital guide in terms of how the Gauteng department of transport can optimise and integrate its transport system. This is the third household survey commissioned by the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport (GDRT).
The first survey was carried out in 2000; followed by another one in 2014 and they were all designed to empower the provincial department of transport to make informed and evidence-based decisions.
The GHTS aimed to achieve the following broad objectives: derive a continuous comparison to the 2014 GHTS patterns, support authorities to undertake better and improved integrated public transport planning, facilitate continuous update of strategic transport models and, enable measurement of Gauteng’s transport system’s performance against set standards.
The survey targeted a randomised sample of 37 000 households spread across metropolitan and district municipalities in Gauteng province. A total of 4 951 138 households were surveyed and it aimed to generate data related mainly to four areas: households, persons in the households, trips undertaken by individuals in households and individual attitudes towards public transport service delivery.
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was charged to implement, oversee and co-ordinate all critical and technical project activities. It also ensured that data collection and analysis is “subjected to accepted levels of quality, ethical integrity and scientific robustness”.
Crucially, the report was put out at the time when the country was beginning to grapple with the challenges of the Covid-19 in early March after the WHO declared the virus a pandemic. The subsequent declaration of the state of disaster in the country and the raft of lockdown regulations has inevitably impacted the normal travel patterns not only in Gauteng but across the country.
But the upside is that the outcomes of the survey provide a “reliable baseline for the province to estimate the impact of the outbreak with certainty”. It also enables the Gauteng department of transport to identify and provide targeted relief measures.
The summary of the key findings highlight some of the following facts that:
- Mobility is getting more complex and there is a noticeable change in the travel behaviour and this tends to challenge the traditional transport planning systems.
- Walking remains the most popular and important means of travel, while intra-municipal travel remains high with over 29% of trips during peak periods taking place through walking. “Walking time to access the first public transport service has increased from 9 minutes in 2014 to 14 minutes in 2019/20”, noted the survey.
- Intra-municipal travel is also significant, requiring the province to invest in capabilities that will enable integrated transport service delivery across municipalities. The “east-west corridor” in Gauteng (Ekurhuleni-Johannesburg-West Rand) is the busiest and requires the province to prioritise it for “inter-municipal transport integration purposes”.
- Motorised travel is still catered for by “low capacity modes such as private vehicles and minibus taxis, which account for 23% of all peak period trips, and private cars for over 22%”. Higher capacity, according to the survey, account for about 5% of peak periods trips.
- Average commuting times have increased over the past 20 years, on a normal working day travel time increased by 17% from 46 minutes in 2014 to 57 minutes in 2019/20, said the survey.
- Younger people under the categories 21-25 and 26-30 age groups are associated with higher levels of mobility and this requires that transport services should designed to respond to younger people.
- Public transport remains the main contributor to most household spend. It is estimated that nearly 60% of households spent more than 10% of their income on public transport in 2019, compared to 55% in 2014.
- Households seem to be more satisfied than dissatisfied with bus and train services. Dissatisfaction relates more to issues of accessibility. Similarly, households appear to be more dissatisfied with the minibus taxis citing security and safety as major concerns.
- A total number of 360 435 persons, which accounts for 2.7% of the population in Gauteng, had to cope with some form of disability or difficulty in accessing modes of public transport or facilities. The most common form of disability was the use of crutches or stick at 24%.
- In terms of the proportion of peak-period trips that occurred particularly in the metropolitan areas of City of Ekurhuleni and the City of Tshwane by 6:00 was 20% of morning traffic and this grew to 50% of morning peak trips by 07:00. In Sedibeng, the survey revealed, 43% of peak trips were estimated to occur by 07:00, whereas 20% of morning peak trips occurred between 00:01 and 08:00.
- 80% of morning peaks trips in Gauteng are estimated to take place between 04:00 and 09:00. Ekurhuleni has the highest share than provincial average in the same traffic period, with an estimated 85% of morning peak trips.
- The survey showed that commuter trips are generally dominated by the use of bus, company transport and lift clubs modes. They accounted for a substantial percentage for work purposes of 54%, 71% and 44% respectively. Private vehicle and minibus taxi trips for the same purpose were correspondingly recorded at 36% and 30%.