South african public transport

The intervention of architecture on THE policy framework and stigma of south african public transport: an intermodal facility for Durban, South Africa

2. Background and outline of research problem

Apart from a lack of facilities, the South African public transport system also suffers from a greatly tarnished image. There are many problems with the infrastructure currently in place. These range from insufficient facilities to questionable national government policies. Current facilities have sparked a decline in use and a dislike for rail travel which has gained a negative perception rooted in apartheid and the attached class distinctions related to this travel mode. Current world trends and environmental issues tend toward a greater use of public transport; this becomes especially pertinent as environmental issues become ever more apparent (Walters, 2008: 1). There is now a general realization that public transport has a significant role to play in enhancing urban mobility, reducing road congestion, decreasing the impact on the environment through harmful emissions and better serving the economy (Walters, 2008: 5).

Intermodal transport is commonplace in many cities around the world and the associated interchange stations are key to the efficiency and success of the public transport infrastructure. Being a new typology of facility to South Africa, architectural approaches have yet to be refined and a study towards an appropriate architecture for this type of facility may prove to be very useful in guiding the future of developments of this sort and their role in the public transport environment as a whole. By determining the most suitable architectural and urban design principles for this type of facility, it may form a catalyst to ignite future development within the transport sector and alter the general public attitude towards public transport. The building typology may set a new precedent in South Africa and act as catalyst for the development of South Africa's public transport infrastructure and policies.

South Africa currently faces the challenges of poverty and unemployment, of which a small part may be related to public transport. Inherent in the character of a transport facility is the continuous flow of people to and across it, which in turns creates the potential for increasing trade and business. A transport facility has the potential to facilitate the integration of South Africa's different population groups and to act as a catalyst for future urban renewal.

This dissertation will explore the realm of public transport within South Africa and develop an understanding of the causes of the attached social, environmental and political issues. Taking these issues into account, a set of architectural principles and guidelines will be derived towards creating a facility which responds directly to the South African urban context.

3. Literature review

Although the idea of a modal interchange is relatively new to South Africa, it has become a popular building typology in other parts of the world. In order to carry out this research project, information on existing facilities will be synthesised with information from literature on the state and nature of public transport in South Africa.

One of the key departure points of the paper will be to examine government policy towards public transport in South Africa. Upon examining The White Paper on National Transport Policy, Land Passenger Transport Policy Framework, National Road Traffic Bill and certain RDP[1] Projects, it becomes apparent that, although various positive and potentially effective policies have been put into place, very little emphasis has been placed on the typology and architecture of transport facilities and the potential to link facilities in modal interchanges. A very clear segregation is apparent between transport modes at government level. With this segregation existing, there has been no drive to promote and facilitate a study towards the appropriate type on modal interchanges for South Africa.

The importance of transport towards the economy and development is widely acknowledged in literature, and emphasises the significance that transport has in the economic development of a country's population. Many people working in built up areas of South African cities are migrant labourers and travel daily, weekly or monthly to their rural homesteads or other places of dwelling out of the cities. The importance of access to transport for people living in rural areas is well documented, yet an often overlooked factor is that commuters from rural areas to urban environments will often require a change in transport mode to shift to inner city travel. Without delving into the intricacies of costing and the fact that the transport sector swallows the equivalent of a limb of the fiscal budget, it is also apparent that the frailties of the South African transport system have diffused into the employment sector due to the fact that labour supply is severely impeded by the inability of workers to commute to and from work. This proves to be particularly significant as a large percentage of the South African labour force do not reside within major urban settlements. Although superior road networks in urban and peri-urban areas exist, courtesy of the cheap labour provided by the previous apartheid2dispensation, the group areas act of this era has isolated a significant portion of society from the buzzing metropolis - the obstacles of poor transporting facilities has been further exacerbated by the divisions imposed by apartheid. Most potential workers live in poorly developed areas that are simply too far away from their places of employment. This hypothesis was confirmed in the National Household Travel Survey of 2003 which sought to understand the problems that pervade the transport sector and modal split; Walters touts that one of the main blockages to employment, as identified by “almost half the households…was that public transport was either not available or too far away” (Walters, 2008 : 99). A second corollary of this lack of mobility, has been the proliferation of slum dwellings in urban areas. These areas are characterized by poor living conditions that are unhealthy for the people that live within them, straining the environment and diminishing the appeal of surrounding areas, and in most instances, have provided a haven for criminal activity - all these factors work in cancerous unison to consume vital resources that could be used in alternative productive opportunities.

The necessity for modal interchanges has been acknowledged of late with the South African Departments of Transports March 2007 Strategy Report calling for ‘a well designed transfer system with high quality public space and pedestrian and wheelchair friendly movement between corridors and/or modes.' This provides a good platform and justification for the requirement to develop an appropriate architectural response for these building types.

Local and international case and precedent studies will be carried out. With regards to international precedent, analysis will be carried out to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the selected studies. Precedent such as the city of Curitiba in Brazil will chosen. This will provide the opportunity to gather data and information on the methods and systems that have been used to create such a successful public transport network. Curitiba exhibits the potential for a city to undergo a great shift from automobile to bus travel. This shift has resulted in a great reduction of annual fuel use and ambient air pollution. Residents of Curitiba spend only about 10 percent of their income on travel, which is far below the Brazilian national average.

With regards to local case studies, Metro Mall[2] and Bara[3] taxi ranks in Gauteng offer a strong example of the amalgamation of trade and transport. Both these facilities are relatively new and have been designed to maximize exposure to passing traffic for trders housed within them. They have been specifically designed to respond to the South African context and environment. These buildings will form part of the primary case studies.

This research project will not attempt to restructure the government policies currently in place. It will aim to derive a building typology which may aid in creating not only a more integrated transport network but also a more convenient and viable transport option for a wide range of the South African population. Doing this will in turn help to better the current public transport policy framework

The following assumptions will be made to aid in creating a swift clear outcome:

* South Africa, Durban in particular, has the potential to accommodate such a facility.

* Commuters will show more interest in public transport as fuel prices increase and environmental issues become more prominent.

4. Problems and objectives : Key Questions to be asked

* Given the problems within the existing public transport infrastructure, the stigma attached to it and the available facilities in South Africa, what is the appropriate architecture for the design of a modal interchange in Kwa-zulu Natal, South Africa?

* What is the appropriate scale and typology for a South African public transport facility.

* What is the appropriate building technology in the creation of an modal interchange facility in Kwa-zulu natal?

* What accommodation should be included in a modal interchange in South Africa?

* How can local trade and culture be incorporated in these developments?

* How do pedestrians and vehicles interact and what measures must be put into place to keep accidents at the lowest possible level?

* How can an intermodal facility integrate an economically diverse society?

* Can a transport facility be a catalyst for change in South African transport policy?

Some of the problems and areas of study that will be investigated in this study include:

* The origins of mixed mode transport nodes.

* The facilities that thrive around these nodes.

* The typology and appearance of the facilities.

* The evolution of the modal interchange station

* The state of current public transport facilities and the remnants of the effects of apartheid

5. Research problems and objectives : broader issues

The purpose of this dissertation is to derive a set of design approaches that can integrate with existing infrastructure, and by using these approaches, determine the appropriate typology to create a facility that is will be well used and ‘owned' by the public. Some of the objectives of this research will be:

* To explore the planning of a modal interchange that will help the efficiency of the cities public transport system.

* To create a modal interchange facility to ignite change in South African public transport policy and alter the stigma currently attached to public transport.

* To create a building which allows the integration of a vast array of user groups of the South African public transport system and to introduce users from economical groups that would not typically use public transport.

* To explore and understand the function of existing international modal interchange facilities, so as to adapt such concepts for application in the design of such local modal interchange facilities.

* To study the current changes around Durban and how they will affect future development of the city

* To study new systems that have been put into place in the South African context such as the Gautrain[4]. In doing so to determine their strengths and shortcomings and their possible integration within the infrastructure being suggested.

* To explore the forces of globalisation on the city and the appropriate responses.

* To explore the concept of a connected city and how a modal interchange facility may aid in creating a city subscribing to this concept .

* To determine the extent to which architecture can define a positive image for future modal interchange facilities and provide a valuable transport for all sectors of the community.

6. Principle theories upon which research is based.

In a developing country such as South Africa public transport is characterized by a number of peculiarities that are generally absent when compared to the public transport systems in first world countries. The first characteristic is probably the abundance of low capacity vehicles (16 seats) in commuter services and the dominance of this form of public transport in the overall public transport sphere. Associated with this are issues such as vehicle maintenance, inter-association rivalry, industry sustainability and the fleet age profile . Although the idea of modal interchange nodes is relatively new in South Africa, fundamental principles have been established in successful international modal interchange facilities. These have begun to define the structure of this type of facility as a new typology this chapter will set out some of the theories and concepts that will be further explored in the following chapters.

To understand the need for people to travel the extent they do in the current day and age one must first understand the human need to interact. This need is contextually unique in South Africa. To propose any new solutions to the current problems relating to public transport in South Africa the background and history of policies and social culture must be considered. Any truly relevant and appropriate solution will embrace issues past and present and determine a response for its local environment. The new diverse society of South Africa offers great opportunities to explore newer forms of building typologies and allow them to respond directly to their context.

In any modern economy, both in developed and developing nations, the environment and transport are directly related and at the forefront of contemporary development issues. For any future development to be considered with regards to transport, an in-depth understanding of its effects on the environment and relevant ways to address these must be attained. A transport node is highly dependent on its context and for a city node to be successful movement trends and patterns within the city must be well understood. These patterns and movements are key to future urban development and proposed intermodal facilities will offer an opportunity to fuel urban rejuvenation and economic growth. Economic growth is integrally related to the transport industry and the inverse of that is also applicable. Once all of these factors are considered the appropriate design guidelines can start to become defined.

7. Research methods & materials

Research carried out will be of both a qualitative and quantitative nature. This will be done so as to gather statistics on local travel, as well as to interpret the wants and needs of the contextual user group.

Interviews will be conducted with professionals who have the competence to meaningfully contribute currently relevant information to this research document and any proposed design solutions.

Data will be collected by the use of both primary and secondary sources.

Primary Research

This will include analysis of current public transport facilities and commuter patterns within them. The research will include photos and sketches of existing facilities. Critical analysis of these facilities will aid in the resolution of future proposed facilities. Field research will be carried out to attain a real world understanding and analysis of current conditions and perceptions of the existing public transport infrastructure.

Secondary Research

This section will draw information from books, journals and structured reports by relevant bodies. The information will be pertinent to this dissertation. This will ensure that this study builds on existing data and adds value to the relevant fields of architectural study.

Population group

One of the intentions of this study is to allow public transport to appeal to a more economically diverse user group. One of the initial steps towards achieving this will be to survey and interview a wide variety of people from varying income groups. These surveys will be done through questionnaires and where necessary, interviews will be carried out. The target group must carefully be selected from varying areas of the country to make up a demographic which includes urban, suburban, and rural dwellers. In essence the population group tested must vary in race, monthly income and dwelling location.

9. References: Primary Sources

1 Banister, D .1995. Transport and Urban Development, E & FN Spon

2 Binney, M. Hamm, M. 1984. Great railway Stations, Thames and Hudson..

3 Black, J 1981. Urban Transport Planning, Croom Helm London

4 Blow, C .2005. Transport Terminals and Modal Interchanges, Architectural Press

5 Button ,K. Gillingwater, D. 1983. Transport, Location and Spatial Policy, gower Publishing Company Ltd.

6 Clausen, A. (ed.) .1968. Socialization and Society, Boston, Little Brown and Company.

7 Duszek, R. 1985. System for Orientation in Cities. The MIT Press Stable 2. 33-40

8 Edwards, B .1997. The Modern Railway Station, New Approaches To Railway Architecture, E & FN Spon

9 Grayson, D. 2008. The Winner - Milwaukee Intermodal Station. The Business Journal 22-25

10 Heshner, D .2003. Handbook of Transport and The Environment, Elesevier Ltd.

11 Heshner, D .2003. Handbook of Transport Geography and Spatial Systems, Elesevier Ltd.

12 Richards, B .1966. New Movement in Cities, Studio Vista Limited

13 Richards, B .1990. Transport in Cities, The Bath Press

14 Nijkamp, P .1998. Transportation planning and the future, John Wiley & Sons

15 Steemers, K .2003. Energy and the city: density, buildings and transport, Elsevier Science

16 Swartz, L. de la Rey, C. & Duncan, N. .2006. Psychology an Introduction, Oxford University Press: Cape Town.

17 Tolley, R .1995. Transport Systems, Policy and Planning, a Geographical Approach, Longman Singapore

18 Visser, P .2003. In search of history, Oxford University Press Southern Africa

19 Wall, A . 1995 Movement and Public Space: Equipping the City for a Mobile Culture. Journal of Architectural Education. 49. 22-28

20 Walters J .2008. Overview of public transport policy developments in South Africa, Elesevier Ltd

10. References : Relevant Unpublished Research

11. References Relevant Published Research

12. Research Schedule:

Month / Year



December 2009

Completion of case and precedent studies

December 2009

Field Research

January 2010

Analysis and outcomes of research

February 2010

Policy and theoretical suggestions

March 2010

Design Guidelines derived from research

April 2010

Implementation of design

May 2010

Draft design proposal

June 2010

Refined design proposal

July 2010

Amalgamation of thesis document

August 2010

Editing and checking of document

[1] Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) is a South African socio-economic policy framework implemented by the African National Congress.

[2] Metro Mall was established to serve as a market place for Johannesburg's informal and formal traders as well as a rank for taxis and buses carrying commuters into and out of Johannesburg.

[3] The Baragwanath Taxi Rank is the busiest inter-modal transport interchange node in Soweto.

[4] Gautrain is an 80-kilometre mass rapid transit railway system under construction in Gauteng Province, South Africa

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