Paper presented at the 22nd Annual Southern African Transport Conference 14 - 16 July 2003 "National issues affecting the movement of people and goods - strategic approaches", CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, South Africa.
ABSTRACT: Transport for learners in rural areas remains an often-overlooked crisis in South Africa. While the shortage of schools and classrooms is a well-recognised problem, the transport problems that the combination of shortages of schools and the low-density settlements in many rural areas causes are often overlooked, yet they remain enormous. While reliable estimates are difficult to find, it is estimated that approximately 750,000 or more than 10% of learners in South Africa walk more than an hour each way during their daily trip to school.
A combination of providing bicycle transport and optimising locations of schools would be by far the most cost effective solution for addressing this problem. It was found that subsidising bicycles is approximately ten times more cost effective than subsidising school busses. In 2001-2002 the South African National Department of Transport piloted a subsidised scholar bicycle programme, called Shova Kalula, in which subsidies on bicycles for learners were tested on a larger scale. It was found that expanding such programmes is financially feasible, as the cost per learner is extremely low if spread over the lifetime of a bicycle or over the school career of the learner. It is also recommended that the Departments of Education and Transport co-ordinate efforts to locate schools within cycling distance of its learners. This paper is the first of a series that will examine the school transport situation in South Africa and will discuss the viability of using bicycles to address this.
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