The South African government has outlined its plans to restore and improve the country’s failing transport network, which includes the use of new-energy public transport and an increased emphasis on walking and cycling infrastructure on all municipal roads in the country.
The plans are outlined in the National Land Transport Strategic Framework (NLTSF) for the next five years, from 2023 to 2028, which the Department of Transport recently gazetted to the public.
The overall vision of the NLTSF, according to the department, is to create an integrated and efficient land transport system supporting a thriving economy that promotes sustainable economic growth, provides safe and accessible mobility options, socially includes all communities, and preserves the environment.
Issues that need addressing
The NLTSF highlights 13 key areas of strategy and policy intent for the Department of Transport (DoT), which are as follows:
- Integrated Land Use and Transport Planning
- Urban Transport and Smart cities
- Universal accessibility
- Rural Transport
- Public Transport
- Non-Motorised Transport
- Learner Transport
- Freight Transport
- Transport Infrastructure
- Cross-Border Transport
- Transport safety and security
- Institutional management
These areas of focus are not prescriptive and detailed, but are designed to be flexible so that stakeholders can adopt relevant guidance to apply a strategy according to local needs and circumstances.
The list is based on the biggest challenges to South Africa’s road network, namely infrastructural neglect, disparities in public transport access, high accident and traffic levels, and lack of pedestrian and cycling facilities, according to BusinessTech.
It also noted that 87% of the country’s freight is moved by road rather than rail, creating a significant imbalance in the transport sector as a whole.
The 87-page document outlines long and short-term goals to address each of the major issues highlighted, all of which also have a focus on environmental sustainability.
A large emphasis has been placed on the expansion of public transport facilities to both support previously marginalized areas, as well as cut down on the “exorbitant” use of private cars by a relatively small percentage of road users.
To this end, the proposal discusses the integration of green technologies including electric vehicles, as well as hydrogen and compressed gas transport along major economic transport corridors.
Another point of note is making walking, cycling, and other forms of non-motorized transport (NMT) more accessible, especially for everyday journeys like trips to work, school, or amenities like shopping centres.
The DoT notes that 26.3% of urban persons rely on walking to get to work each day. In rural areas this number increases to an average of 39.2%.
This number is even higher for students, as a 2020 survey revealed that 59.4% of learners in cities walk to school, which increases to 70.4% in outlying areas.
With proper city planning, it is expected that cycling and pedestrian networks can act as feeders to public transport which, given the low cost of this form of mobility, has the potential to bring about equity and create accessibility for people who cannot afford public transport or private vehicles, said the report.
The NLTSF has therefore outlined a strategy for municipalities that makes the provision of 2-metre-wide sidewalks, and 1.5-metre-wide cycle lanes a standard requirement on all municipal roads.
These NMT lanes must be unimpeded, meaning there are no light poles, road signs, informal traders, or other obstructions occupying the space.
The department said it wants to draw more investment toward NMT programmes, particularly for schools, and to increase the number of bicycles it donates through its campaigns.