Commuters in Cape Town already in the midst of a bus strike have to contend with a near breakdown of train services, after Metrorail announced massive delays across its network on Friday morning.
The company said there were delays of more than 60 minutes on all lines heading into Cape Town, due to a signal failure between the Cape Town, Mutual/Pinelands/Observatory and the Ysterplaat lines.
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It advised commuters to make alternative travel arrangements.
However, commuters are having to contend with Day 3 of a national bus strike that has left thousands stranded and minibus taxis strained to cater for the increased travel load.
Unions and employers have reached a deadlock in their wage negotiations in which workers have demanded a 12% increase and employers offered 7%. A meeting on Thursday, mediated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), failed to resolve the dispute and on Friday morning, bus services were still not operating.
Cape Town mayoral committee member for transport Brett Herron highlighted the difficulties commuters would face in light of the delays.
“The bus strike continues and no buses are operating this morning. To make matters worse Metrorail has announced significant operational failures across the region affecting all lines this morning. They are operating limited services with delays of at least 60 minutes,” said Herron in a statement.
“Trains that do operate will also be subject to a holding pattern at Salt River, Mutual and Esplanade stations. This will make it extremely difficult for commuters who use public transport. Employers must please exercise patience and flexibility for their employees.
“Our public transport network requires a fully operational commuter rail system to be its backbone. Today we have several hundreds of thousands of commuters stranded by rail plus those who usually use buses looking for a way to commute. The situation is intolerable.
“We urge parties to the passenger bus bargaining process to work extra hard to find agreement. In the long term we must get rail back on track. It is by far the most efficient means of providing affordable access and mobility.”
Metrorail has come under fire in the past for its failure to provide safe and efficient public transport and on Wednesday, Transport Minster Blade Nzimande lambasted Metrorail owner, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), for its failure to South Africans.
“Some people are treating Prasa like an ATM. It prioritises everything else, except the provisioning of safe affordable rail transport,” said Nzimande, adding that the state-owned entity was in a “mess”.
The bus strike has also led to traffic chaos on the roads and tension at taxi ranks as frustrated commuters try to get to their destinations.
Metrorail says commuters can call 0800 65 64 63 for transport information.[source: news24]