The management of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) recently announced that it would take up to six months to get the closed-off sections of Metrorail’s Central line up and running once again.
The line has been suspended indefinitely for the last three months due to ongoing vandalism. Metrorail also faces challenges with longer travel times along the Southern and Cape Flats lines due to service restrictions, as well as the resignalling of Transnet’s freight rail affecting parts of the Northern line.
Arson attacks have also plagued the rail system, with another carriage torched earlier this week at Retreat station.
Prasa’s administrator, Bongisizwe Mpondo, said extensive damage to infrastructure on the Central line would take a while to fix.
“There has been untold vandalism and it is actually not possible for us to operate, because each time we fix it, practically the next day it is vandalised again,” he said.
“What we seek to do is formally close the line and begin a process of upgrade for the infrastructure itself and ensure that we properly fence off the line so that it is not easy to access the network.”
With the MyCiTi Express Service, which services both Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain, suspended, commuters in both areas have had to make do with alternative transport.
And with price hikes introduced last month on the only two other modes of transport, commuters in the areas now say a single-trip ticket from Khayelitsha to Cape Town costs R32 on Golden Arrow buses and a taxi to the CBD will set a commuter back R20.
Chairperson of the Khayelitsha Development Forum Ndithini Tyhido, whose organisation formed a task team to investigate public transport challenges in the area, says they had invited Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to attend a transport summit next month.
Tyhido said: “The public transport situation on the Central line is an attack on the poorest of the poor.”