A recent article in the Daily Dispatch this week raises concern over taxis blocking driveways and delivery points during peak traffic hours.
There’s a lot that can be examined in this article, such as how one driver said they had no choice but to park that way if they wanted to get passengers and earn money.
For more on that, read New Frame’s great investigative report (‘Taxi industry exploits drivers’, New Frame, November 27 2019).
For this week, though, I want to discuss how the Dispatch’s piece reveals the problems of traffic control not just in the CBD, but in SA as a whole.
I have written about this before. Back then, I suggested we should work on diversifying our public transport networks, extending and improving our rail and bus networks.
I still think that is an important step, but let’s take a slightly different approach.
As of now, the taxi industry is the pillar of the country’s public transport, making up 65% of all trips and transporting about 15 million people every day.
If the current garbage fire that is Prasa is any indication, a viable alternative is still a long way away.
So how in the meantime can we go about easing the burden on taxis to minimise issues like those described in the Dispatch?
First, the establishment of dedicated taxi lanes would go a long way to improving issues of congestion on city streets.
It’s the same logic behind dedicated bus or emergency vehicle lanes.
If taxis have an entire lane just to themselves, it not only makes it more efficient for them but also gives other drivers more room on the road.
In a similar vein, establishing more dedicated taxi ranks and pick up/drop off sites in city centres stops cases mentioned in the Dispatch article from happening again.
After all, the main reason taxis are forced to park in whatever empty space they can find is because there’s literally nowhere else they can do so.
The number of taxi ranks currently available are nowhere near sufficient and a lot are a good distance away from where the passengers need to go, hence the problem of taxis having to park in areas that inconvenience other motorists.
Even if it’s a dedicated spot every two blocks or so, I think it would make a noticeable difference.
Whether we like it or not, taxis remain the most accessible form of public transport for most South Africans and will remain so for quite a while.
As a result, some accommodations will be necessary to make everyone’s motoring experience easier and safer.