To assist minibus taxi operators, associations and the regional taxi leadership improve their business, operations and their service to commuters, eThekwini Municipality will roll-out a Public Transport Service Improvement Programme in October, National Transport month.
This programme, which was approved at the Human Settlements and Infrastructure Committee meeting and at Full Council, aims to support the taxi industry.
Chairperson of the Human Settlements and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Mondli Mthembu commended the programme because it will strengthen relations between the public transport industry and the Municipality.
“The introduction of this customer service improvement programme, ahead of the implementation of its new integrated public transport network – GO!Durban, is in response to the call by citizens for better, safer, more efficient and reliable public transport. Through this initiative, we are also formalising and promoting road safety,” he said.
The programme is designed to use a set of rewards to incentivise improved performance by participants including commuters to ensure better customer care and an increase in standard of the provision of public transport for all.
EThekwini Transport Authority Deputy Head for Public Transport, Mlungisi Wosiyana said the plan is to provide support to operators, associations and regional offices with the aim to improve the running of their businesses and improving their business environment.
“For the City to function optimally economically, we need improved reliability and efficiency of our public transport service. Going hand in hand with this is driver development and empowerment as we work together with the operators and associations to ensure that we are all aiming towards one common goal,” he explained.
When the project is being piloted, qualifying operators will continue on their allocated routes and commuters will be given opportunities to rate their trip experience. Ratings done by the commuter will pertain to the overloading of vehicles, speeding or reckless driving, loud music, cleanliness of vehicles and the attitude of the drivers and their assistants. The vehicles will be required to have appropriate up-to-date licensing and roadworthiness certifications.
Wosiyana said the programme will provide rewards to drivers, owners, regions and associations which will be based on commuter ratings.
“We have designed a programme that is able to track vehicles, obtain feedback from the various structures like rank marshalls and associations and commuter ratings. But it is also important that vehicle owners ensure compliance with relevant transport by-laws and regulations,” he added.
The incentives programme, which has been approved by Council, incorporates many suggestions and proposals, which were obtained through consultation with minibus taxi leadership. This collaboration bodes well for the future.
As part of the preparation for the formal launch of the programme in October, detailed briefing sessions will be conducted with taxi associations, operators and drivers in the City, so that everyone is clear about the qualification criteria, incentives applicable to them, and the implementation process. The first phase, which will be launched in October, will be a pilot, with the full roll-out in the last quarter of the 2017/18 financial year.