/MyCiTi suspension on N2 hits Cape Town commuters hard in the pocket

MyCiTi suspension on N2 hits Cape Town commuters hard in the pocket

Commuters in Khayelitsha are battling to get to work, as the suspension of the MyCiTi service on the N2 enters its 10th week.

Those who can afford it are clubbing together to use e-hailing services, spending up to R250 for the trip to the city, GroundUp reports.

Some say they need to bring laptops, cameras and other equipment to work in the city centre and minibus taxis are not always safe from thieves.

Copywriter and freelance events photographer Mawande Sobetwa lives in Litha Park, Khayelitsha. He says the MyCiTi bus N2 express system was reliable, dependable and on time. He says, since the suspension of the service, his transport costs have doubled.

“This month alone, by the 12th, I have already spent over R1 000 on transport.” He says he spends R150 to R200 on e-hailing services on the way to town and splits the amount with other commuters on the way back home.

Minibus taxis would charge R50 return, he says, but are more risky.

Sobetwa says the buses “did a great job” supplementing taxi services.

‘We have to spend two to three hours in traffic’

“There are not a lot of taxis to transport loads of people during rush hour,” he says, and taxi drivers have reason to drive fast. “We passengers want to get to work quickly because we have been stuck at the taxi rank for an hour and a half and want to reach work on time.”

“Metrorail trains are a total mess at the moment.”

But in the darkness of winter mornings, taxi users are vulnerable to thieves, says Sobetwa.

“The absence of the MyCiTi bus N2 express has created chaos on the N2. A taxi driver who used to make six trips a day now has to make 12.”

Loyiso Mfunda lives in Phakamisa, Khayelitsha, and works in Sea Point. He used to take a taxi from Khayelitsha to the Cape Town centre and then another to Sea Point. He would leave his home at 07:30 and made it to work on time by 09:30.

Then he started using MyCiTi.

But, with the disruption of the N2 Express, and the dysfunctional Metrorail system, he has started using taxis to get to town again, leaving home as early as 05:30 to get to work on time, he says.

“We have to spend two to three hours in traffic on a bad day.”

‘Financially it is crazy’

To get back home after work, he tried using Uber and Bolt e-hailing services, but found these too expensive. Now he uses InDriver.

“We split the fare. We are three people on average. We contribute R50 each to make up the total fare. Financially it is crazy. It is unsustainable. With a normal minibus taxi, on average, I would spend R1 200 a month. With MyCiTi, I spent on average R800. Now, mid-month, I have already spent close to R2 000 on transport,” says Mfunda.

Pamela Mzomba lives in Harare, Khayelitsha, and works as a cleaner in the Cape Town city centre. She also used the N2 express service. Now, she says, she cannot afford e-hailing services and has to use minibus taxis. She gets up at 04:00 to allow time to queue at the rank for an hour and board a taxi which might then get stuck in traffic for two hours before getting to Cape Town.

She says she has blown her transport budget, forcing her to borrow from neighbours and from moneylenders. And in spite of her best efforts, she often gets to work late.

The City of Cape Town is still negotiating a new contract with an operator so that the service can resume, mayoral committee member Felicity Purchase said in July.

A court battle brought by the Cape Organisation of Democratic Taxi Associations has also delayed the progress, News24 reported.