Plans to ease traffic congestion beyond Covid-19

Empty roads during the nationwide lockdown.
Traffic data for the N1, the N2, a section of the N7 and M5 freeways show that since the start of the lockdown the weekday traffic counts on these roads have dropped between 75% to 80% in April 2020.

However, according to the City’s Transport Directorate, the volumes increased significantly in May from around 20% to 40% of the traffic volumes seen before the pandemic; and in June the traffic volumes have increased further to about 65% of the normal weekday levels as more people are returning to work with the easing of the regulations related to Alert Level 3 of the lockdown.

Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Felicity Purchase, said Covid-19 has confirmed that traffic congestion can be significantly reduced by managing the demand for travel.

“Working remotely, at home, instead of from an office; travelling to work outside of the traditional peak hour periods; and using more sustainable ways to travel – for example, walking or cycling where possible, or joining lift clubs and using public transport – can have a lasting impact on traffic congestion, and will significantly lower our carbon footprint,” she said.

The City’s Transport Directorate is investigating:

– prioritising road-based public transport by providing an outbound bus, minibus-taxi (BMT) lane on the N2 freeway through Hospital Bend to Raapenberg Road and beyond; and to identify other roads where BMT lanes can be implemented

– providing more and improved public transport options to those who are using private vehicles

– enabling remote working or flexible working hours for government officials beyond the COVID-19 pandemic as officials make out a large percentage of those commuters travelling to and from the Cape Town CBD on weekdays

– promoting remote working and flexible working hours among big businesses in the CBD

– the possible roll-out of city-wide broadband in areas where the private sector is not providing fibre as yet

–  encouraging popup remote working centres in neighbourhoods where residents will have access to wifi and meeting rooms

– prioritising walking and cycling in business precincts with the provision of safe walkways and cycle lanes; and the provision of easy access to safe lock-up facilities for bicycles at retail shopping centres and work places

– encouraging and promoting carpooling and ridesharing

Ms Purchase added, “We will be working closely with other City Directorates, the Western Cape Government, and big businesses in the city in coming months to see how we can make a lasting impact on traffic congestion, and how to promote public transport and walking and cycling.”