New system to gather public transport user feedback during the lockdown
A key responsibility of the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW) during the lockdown is managing public transport operator compliance with national government regulations regarding loading restrictions, hygiene and social distancing. The Department’s new USSD “quick code” system will enable public transport users to send free feedback using their cell phones. By giving people a voice, DTPW will more effectively be able to prevent the spread of Covid-19 on public transport.
Since the lockdown started, the Department has been engaging in public and transport operator education in partnership with bus operators and taxi associations. DTPW has assisted public transport operators to comply with regulations and best practice by distributing masks, gloves and sanitiser. It has also established an effective system for monitoring Covid-19 hygiene in public transport interchanges. The new USSD system will enable DTPW to keep improving its response by gathering information from public transport users.
Many people already use USSD quick codes to buy airtime or to do cellphone banking. Users can dial *134*234# and let DTPW know what kind of public transport vehicle they are travelling on, whether the vehicle is adhering to lockdown loading limits, whether the driver is wearing a mask, whether there is hand sanitiser on board, and whether the vehicle is clean and tidy.
During the lockdown, minibus taxis and midibuses may carry only 70% of the number of people they are usually licensed to carry. A midibus licensed to carry 23 people may carry only the driver and 15 passengers. A minibus taxi licensed to carry 16 people may carry only the driver and 10 passengers. A minibus taxi licensed to carry 11 people may carry only the driver and 7 passengers.
During the lockdown, bus services, metered taxis and e-hailing taxis may carry only 50% of the number of people they are usually licensed to carry. A metered or e-hailing taxi licensed to carry 4 people may therefore carry only the driver and 1 passenger.
Government regulations require public transport operators to sanitise their vehicles before picking up and after dropping off passengers. They must sanitise door and window handles, arm rests and handrails. Operators must ensure that their vehicles are clean and tidy. They must make disinfection information materials and procedures available to public transport users. Drivers of public transport vehicles must wear a mask. It is recommended that public transport operators keep hand sanitiser in their vehicles, and keep windows open when possible.
Let's all help to stop the spread of the virus by practising basic hygiene and maintaining social distance on public transport.