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Thursday / 20 June 2024
HomeFeaturesCheaper Gautrain fares in the works

Cheaper Gautrain fares in the works

The Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) is working on introducing cheaper fares to select users as part of its expansion plans for the commuter-rail service.

This follows sustained criticism that Gautrain prices only cater to citizens who already have access to private vehicles, not those who rely on public transport like buses, taxis, and Prasa trains.

The GMA is currently in the advanced stages of the Gautrain expansion which will see the total network nearly triple in size from 80km to 230km after the current concession expires in 2026 and the system is handed over to the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG).

On the North-South commuter line, the project is adding an additional route between Samrand and Mamelodi, with stops in Irene, Pretoria East, and Hazeldean.

Meanwhile, the East-West Commuter line will be significantly lengthened to locations as far as Boksburg in the east and Cosmo City in the west.

Another new line will connect Jabulani in the southwest to Samrand in the north, with new stations in Roodepoort, Little Falls, Cosmo City, Fourways, Sunninghill, and Olievenhoutbosch along the way.

Finally, the Airport Service line will be extended to Lanseria Airport, with new stations in the Cradle, Randburg, and Sandton.

The below map shows the planned additions to the existing Gautrain network:

Speaking to MyBroadband, GMA COO Victor Shange said that the expansion will provide unprecedented access to Gautrain services in low-income areas where it was previously inaccessible.

To incentivise the use of the commuter rail by these individuals, Shange said that the GMA will introduce special reduced fares for select travellers, including indigent families, pensioners, and scholars.

“The premium fare will always be there, but we’ll be able to introduce other ‘targeted’ fares,” he said.

These cheaper tickets will be rolled out to existing routes first to assess their commercial viability before being applied to the expanded network, however, Shange did not confirm when they will become available.

New DLTCs and more

The Gautrain has thus far largely relied on subsidies to remain operational due to its high fares not attracting enough users to keep it above water.

In 2022, the Automobile Association calculated that Gauteng residents, regardless of whether they use the railway or not, had contributed some R13 billion to the system through a “Patronage Guarantee” to the Bombela Concession Company, which currently operates the Gautrain.

The Patronage Guarantee is backed by the GPG and was key to the successful development of the Gautrain.

In conception stage, the Gautrain was an unproven greenfield project and to ensure that it would be able to continue operations the GPG offered a Patronage Guarantee that would subsidise the service should it not be able to entice enough paying commuters to cover its costs.

Going forward, the GMA will focus on reducing its reliance on this government handout through several additional revenue streams, which will also enable it to launch cheaper tickets.

With the Gautrain now fully paid off, the GMA will enjoy all the revenue brought in by commercial partnerships after 2026 which on its own is expected to significantly strengthen its financial sustainability.

Furthermore, it will expand the coverage of Smart Driver’s Licence Testing Centres like those currently available at the Centurion and Midrand stations.

The GMA is also venturing into property development and will partner with established construction companies to develop the land on which it has ownership rights, which will open up additional income channels presumably through renting out the new buildings.

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