Last week, Thursday, no one looked after the defaulter’s office at Cape Town’s main station. (Photo: Tariro Washinyira)
Another year at best before the Cape Town Central line resumes service to Khayelitsha.
First published by GroundUp.
It is depressing these days to take the train from Rondebosch to Cape Town. Thursday last week there was another person on the platform.
We bought tickets at noon. The train left more than two hours later.
At Cape Town station, the platforms were deserted, with the exception of the cleaners and a few security guards. The billboards have disappeared from the walls. The platform displays only show the time of day instead of information about the departure of the next train.
The staff at the information desk could tell us when the next train to Fish Hoek was leaving, but did not know from which platform. No one bothered to staff the defaulting office so that people would pay the fines.
We found a few commuters hanging out around Cape Town station. They complained that since Metrorail stopped selling weekly or monthly tickets, buying daily tickets is expensive. They also complained about the constant change of platforms.
During our stay, the train to Fish Hoek went from platform 5 to platform 6 and then back to platform 5.
Our car on the 3 pm train to Rondebosch only had about fifteen people; three others embarked at Salt River.
“I used to pay R50 per week, but now that has almost doubled and the trains are never on time. When you get to the station, they tell you there is no train or the train is delayed, ”said a health worker at a Brooklyn facility.
He said he commuted by train for 20 years and the trains were full of people. He has now given up waiting for a train in Maitland because there are so few of them.
“People are frustrated and express their anger on trains. It is also dangerous to be on the train now. They [even] stealing from people during the day, ”he said.
Metrorail spokesperson in the Western Cape, Riana Scott, continues to try to provide useful answers to our questions despite the collapse all around her. She explained that weekly and monthly tickets have been discontinued in all Metrorail regions and will not be restarted until the order is placed.
Scott said Metrorail times are posted on https://capetowntrains.sitelio.me/timetables “With any discrepancies communicated via social media and station announcements”.
But this site is built on a free platform, with a Mexican domain. The links to timetables and route maps take you to Google Drive links, and these have not been updated since September 2020. There is no indication that this is an official website. The official Twitter account tells commuters to get to https://capetowntrains.freeblog.site (hardly an official website) for timetables. Here is what you see on this site:
On March 8, Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula, responding to GroundUp‘s, said the central line would be operational by the end of 2021. This post was reiterated on March 31 by the president of Prasa, Leonard Ramatlakane. Ramatlakane was more ambitious talk to SABC on June 9, saying the line would be operational by November 2021. Scott told us that the Central Line will now be operational by May 2022. In eleven days, six months have been added to the schedule for the reopening of the Central Line .
Scott said that currently 151 trains run daily in the Cape Town area (a train is indicated by a train number on a timetable). Before the hard lockdown, the region operated 273 trains per day.
The Central Line, which serves most of Cape Town’s population, was not operational at this point, having closed in 2019.
Scott said that since last year’s lockdown with people now working remotely, revised shifts, alternate days for academics, a reduced workforce and compliance with Covid-19 restrictions, had all contributed to reducing the number of passengers on all modes of public transport. But we took buses and taxis last week and they are incomparably busier than trains. DM
More about this article: Read More
This notice was published: 2021-06-21 13:11:59