Early Days of Johannesburg BRT Highlight Persistent Racial Tensions

The major cities in South Africa are busy building new bus rapid transit systems to improve the way their residents get around. But in Johannesburg, the new system is having a rocky start.
February 22, 2010, 11am PST | Nate Berg
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Racial tensions still persist in post-apartheid South Africa, and the bus system's connections between increasingly black-populated areas and downtown Johannesburg have rifled some of the city's white population.

"The new Bus Rapid Transit systems planned for South Africa's major cities in recent years have promised to ease those hardships by providing fast, affordable, dignified travel on bus lanes cleared of other vehicles.

Prodded by a national commitment to improve public transportation for soccer's 2010 World Cup, Johannesburg is carrying out the nation's most ambitious program. The city predicted that buses would be rolling from Soweto, where a quarter of the city's four million residents live, to Sandton, the region's commercial and financial hub, by June.

But its bus project is falling short of that goal and has also become a reminder of just how challenging it is for South Africa to transcend its scarred history."

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Published on Sunday, February 21, 2010 in The New York Times
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