Trying to Tackle Mobility Issues in South Africa

New government efforts in South Africa are trying to improve mobility for those who rely on public transportation, walking and biking.
August 30, 2011, 1pm PDT | Nate Berg
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Progress is gradual, and the mobility issues facing the country are great.

"Sixty per cent of South Africans don't own private cars. They either walk or cycle to work – often an hour each way – or use public transport to travel the long distances created by sprawling, spatially segregated cities. The informal minibus-taxi industry takes the lion's share; the regulated rail and bus systems the rest. Public transport is, for the most part, unsafe, overcrowded, unreliable, expensive and run by operators who will at times (sometimes literally) kill their competition in order to keep their routes and licences.

The vast majority use it because they have no other choice. They can't afford the transport, public or private, that they'd prefer. Like Nyati, most commuters dream of owning their own vehicle. No matter how rusty, beaten up and unroadworthy a car might be, having your own offers the door-to-door flexibility that public transport does not. The magic number is R3,500 (about $452) – the monthly income at which low-income earners start putting out the word that they're looking for a used car."

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Published on Monday, August 29, 2011 in This Big City
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