The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) is facing the challenge of revitalising the country’s train services as recent data reveals Metrorail passenger journeys have dropped. According to a survey conducted by Stats SA, the number of passenger journeys on Metrorail has plummeted by a staggering 46 million since 2013.
EWN reports that this decline in train travel has far-reaching implications, particularly in major cities like Cape Town, where an effective rail service could alleviate transportation woes. The urgent need for reliable alternatives to current transport options became evident during a recent minibus taxi strike that brought Cape Town to a virtual standstill. The strike left thousands of commuters, including school children, stranded and highlighted the vulnerability of the existing transportation system.
Multiple factors have contributed to the decline in Metrorail passengers. Corruption within the rail sector and the deterioration of rail infrastructure during the COVID-19 lockdown are significant factors impacting passenger numbers.
Hishaam Emeran, the CEO of Prasa Group, highlighted the crucial role that rail has historically played in Cape Town’s public transport system. He stressed the importance of re-establishing rail as the backbone of the city’s transportation network.
Emeran pointed out that passenger numbers have substantially dropped in the past. Just a few years ago, Cape Town saw nearly 700,000 daily trips via the rail system. However, that number has plunged to under 50,000 trips per day, marking a significant decline. This decrease is due to a combination of factors, including historic under-investment in rail infrastructure, its eventual deterioration, and the recent impact of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Addressing the decline in passenger numbers and revitalising the rail system is critical for Prasa. Efforts to restore confidence in the rail service and rebuild its infrastructure are essential for offering commuters a reliable and efficient mode of transportation and reducing the strain on other transit options.
Picture: X / MetrorailWC
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