Emerging technologies and innovative solutions are fuelling the future of mobility, with South Africa’s major cities already gearing up to invest in mobility access and infrastructure.

Congestion is a major issue for the city of Johannesburg, and infrastructure improvement projects are underway to deal with both that issue and the resulting air pollution.

Aging traffic flow control systems contribute to congestion as well as traffic lights not working. The high use of private vehicles due to unreliable public transport is one of the biggest sources of air pollution in the city.

Meanwhile, Cape Town has multiple operators across different modes, which results in unco-ordinated routes and a lack of integrated ticketing and payment systems.

These factors, coupled with safety concerns, discourage commuters from using public transport.

This is according to the second phase of the “Deloitte City Mobility Index – 2018”. The Index goes beyond present-day transportation issues and looks to the future by offering a comprehensive review of key aspects of mobility. The Index sets out to create a new and better way for city officials, transport operators and public planners to gauge the readiness of their transport networks to embrace the rapid changes occurring in the transportation ecosystem, known as the Future of Mobility.

“The release of the second phase of the Deloitte City Mobility Index – 2018 continues to set the stage for increased learning around the future of mobility and how cities around the world are leveraging new technologies to advance the global transport system,” says Jan-Hendri Tromp, senior chief of staff: automotive at Deloitte.

“With the rapid speed of change and issues including high congestion, poor air quality, expanding the metro network to cover suburbs and adjacent cities, and widespread adoption of emerging technologies, the Index provides a key framework for cities to learn from each other and power the transport systems of tomorrow.”

Johannesburg seeks to fulfil its vision for 2040 through a range of new approaches, making public and non-motorised transport increasingly attractive and viable through strategic public transport infrastructure development and investment initiatives.

Cape Town is one of the most congested cities in South Africa, largely due to unreliable public transport and narrow roads. To address this problem, the 2032 City Vision plans to integrate different modes of public transportation to form a seamless system.

The city will also invest in technologies to facilitate a convenient, secure, and cost-effective fare system that works across all modes. Another challenge is the low share of active modes; despite having 450km of cycle lanes across the city, very few people use bicycles to get around.

The city should also promote carpooling, carsharing, and bike-sharing to reduce congestion.

Additional key findings in Johannesburg include:

* The city is creating well-planned “Corridors of Freedom” with accessible public transport options and safe neighbourhoods to promote walking and cycling.

* Johannesburg is one of the first municipalities in South Africa to issue a green bond ($110-million) for environmental and social sustainability projects, such as the procurement of 150 hybrid-fuel buses.

* Sandton’s Gautrain station is a test site for public autonomous vehicle trials in 2018. Electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure projects will begin soon as South Africa seeks to become an innovation hub in Africa, testing mobility solutions in emerging markets.

“Minibus taxis help with first- and last-mile transport problems in Johannesburg but are largely unregulated, poorly maintained, and overcrowded. The government plans to replace old fleets and integrate them with the existing BRT system,” adds Tromp.

“Recent fare hikes averaging 6 percent on BRT buses and Metrobus exacerbate affordability issues for low-income commuters. Local authorities should consider approaches such as distance-based pricing.”

Additional key findings in Cape Town include:

* Fragmented and unreliable public transportation system forces commuters to drive, which leads to congestion. Metrorail’s ridership is 70% above total capacity and suffers from high crime rates and vandalism.

* Low adoption of cycling due to road safety and personal security issues. Working to provide 80% of city residents access to public transportation within 500m of their residence.

* Incentivising public transport usage via higher parking charges.

* The city’s Advanced Public Transport Management System (APTMS) helps track delays and improve customer satisfaction.

“The city has allocated more than US$106 million to modernise the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes. These new routes will allow for five times the number of passengers currently using the BRT network. BRT services will also include minibus taxis,” adds Tromp. “Cape Town is the first African city to use electric vehicles (EVs) in the public transport system, investing in a fleet of electric buses. The Transport and Urban Development Authority also aims to increase bicycle commuters from 1% to 8% by 2030.”