Paper presented at the 31st Annual Southern African Transport Conference 9-12 July 2012 "Getting Southern Africa to Work", CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, South Africa.
South African cities have gone through a prolonged period of under-investment in Public Transport, which led to poor quality of formal, scheduled services and the proliferation of informal, unscheduled and notoriously unsafe services. South Africa is addressing the backlog by investing in large capital Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) projects which have shown to significantly change the image and acceptance of public transport. However, these large scale improvements come with challenges and risks and are implemented at a cost that puts a large burden on developing cities. Despite the quality offered through the roll-out of large-scale projects, it is a slow process, which results in poor public transport service continuing in large parts of the cities not immediately benefiting from improvements.
This paper is used to explore an incremental approach as an alternative, or even complimentary, approach to upgrading urban public transport systems. We conclude that an incremental approach can reduce some of the risks inherent in major interventions; provide the opportunity to gradually implement supporting policies; and provide improvements in a wider area, which would benefit a larger part of the population over a shorter time period. The incremental approach does not preclude substantial improvements in areas with critical needs for large scale interventions.
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