Commuters angry at Metrorail increases

Bernard Chiguvare
A defaced Metrorail carriage. Most carriages are covered in graffiti.
Bernard Chiguvare

COSATU and an organisation called Public Transport Voice have criticised Metrorail Cape Town’s ticket increases which kick in today, 1 July 2015. Metrorail, however, says the fare increase is unavoidable.

The cost of single tickets has risen between 50 cents and a rand. Weekly tickets have risen between one and two rand, while monthlies have risen from between R2 to R38.

Bob Ememe catches the train daily from Wynberg to the city centre. He used to pay R140 for a monthly ticket from Retreat to Cape Town. But now he has to pay R150. “The increase does not make sense. The trains are always delayed, giving us problems at our work places. I have the train timetable with me but the trains will never be on time. The first train from Wynberg to Cape Town is supposed to be at 5:16am but we have already forgotten about it. It is never on time,” Ememe said.

Massaap Benga works in Rondebosch. He said, “This increase is a surprise. It comes [at a time when] Metrorail is not giving us better services. I get stressed when I get to work late everyday. When I arrive an hour late the boss will always deduct money.”

In an email to GroundUp, COSATU said the increase in train tickets was unfair and that the trade union movement would conduct “strike action” against Metrorail. It said it would file a section 77 Application with NEDLAC that will give it the legal right to take protected strike action against Metrorail and what it described as “its substandard service.” COSATU further said, “Workers are facing incredible hardships with rising prices across the board and here is an example of cost increasing but services getting worse.”

“We have seen the State bail out other parastatals like SAA to the tune of billions of rand for the transport needs of the wealthy,” COSATU said.

COSATU’s concerns are shared by the commuter rights organisation, Public Transport Voice. A statement released by the organisation’s leader Zingisani Nkanjeni, said, “What we are seeing is poor people bailing out Metrorail and PRASA from mismanagement of finances.”

Western Cape Metrorail Regional Manager, Richard Walker, said that the cost of operating the current service has “burgeoned.” He said major cost drivers “like electricity and safety-critical components have increased far beyond the rate of inflation.” Walker said that the fare increase are used to cover operating costs, while “Improvements and upgrades are funded through capital.”

Walker described the pricing strategy as “pro-poor.” He said, “Metro users pay for only 6.5 trips per week but have the option of 14 trips including weekends. Similarly monthly tickets are priced for 3.1 weeks travel but allow the holder to travel for 4.”

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TOPICS:  Transport

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