After ongoing problems with the Dial-a-Ride service for disabled people persisted for most of this year, it seems that relief is finally on the horizon for the thousands of registered but dissatisfied users in Cape Town. Recently, a new contract has been adopted by the City’s Transport Directorate with HG Travelling Services and this new contract is anticipated to result in the service reaching optimal efficiency. Previously, HG Travel complained that their existing contract with the City was not feasible and didn’t allow for proper maintenance of their vehicles nor cover fuel expenses. However, it seems these issues have now been resolved with the new contract.
“In terms of the original conditions of the contract, the pricing structure was no longer feasible…it became unaffordable for them [HG] to keep their vehicles operating optimally…so what this new contract does is allow for the pricing structure to be updated to realistic fares and therefore now we’ll be able to get all the vehicles operating, roadworthy and functional,” said Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Felicity Purchase.
Purchase projects that the vehicles will all be up and running within the next few weeks and providing an efficient service by the end of January. According to the City, over 3000 people are on the books for the service and about 350 people use it every day to get to and from work. Purchase indicated that the City would like to be able to grow the service and even offer it to those completely incapacitated.
Meanwhile, Dial-a-Ride user and member of the Dial-a-Ride forum, Elroy Lodewyk said that although things are looking up, Dial-a-Ride users are still unhappy with the struggles they have had to endure with the service and the consequences users have faced as a result of the service’s failure to communicate with users and transport those who need it.
“We are happy with the contract that has been signed…[but] right now I can’t say I’m happy because there’s not going to be a bus tomorrow morning…people lost employment, couldn’t socialise and couldn’t make doctor appointments,” said a frustrated Lodewyk.
Purchase responded to the comments of Lodewyk simply, by saying that the City notes all complaints and is continuously looking to improve the service.