One of the biggest disservices that the South African Apartheid Regime committed, other than the obvious segregation of its peoples, was the termination of the tramway facilities in its cities. Would you believe that fossil fuel driven cars were cited as “the new way” and the preferred mode of inner city transportation by that government in the early 1960’s, leading to the final closure of the tramways on 02 August 1961.
If there is one sure instance in which Apartheid can be blamed for the current state of public transport, then it is definitely this very short sighted termination of its tramway system. A structured system of trams, have made way for an unstructured, chaotic minibus taxi scheme.
The present day Rea Vaya RBT system may be an attempt to resurrect the much needed inner city public transportation structure, but unfortunately, being Diesel powered, it is neither very sustainable, nor a clean mode of transportation.
Tramways are used extensively and effectively as a quick, sustainable hop on-hop off mode of inner city transportation, across most of the world’s leading cities, of which Johannesburg is regarded as one, however without a Tramway. Trams are a convenient, sustainably powered, low cost and disabled person friendly means of inner city transportation. In addition, they can also at times be regarded as hassle free, cosy and somewhat romantic.
The following video clip, shot in Warsaw, Poland, in January 2013, illustrates how an underground Metro rail system should be effectively linked to a Tramway infrastructure at street level.