Minister Carlisle: It is My Business to Speak Directly to Struggling Commuters
Robin Carlisle, the Minister of Transport and Public Works in the Western Cape, took a train from Kraaifontein to Cape Town on Tuesday morning, 3 April 2012.
This was despite receiving an e-mail that he described as "having every appearance of a veiled threat that my trip would be used as an excuse for violence and service delivery disruption" from Mthuthuzeli Swartz, the Regional Manager Metrorail Western Cape, late on 2 April 2012.
"I am also concerned that the e-mail, which was sent after business hours yesterday, apparently also after Swartz's announcement to the media about the technical glitch, makes no mention of this so-called technical glitch," said Minister Carlisle.
In the e-mail to Minister Carlisle at 18:58, titled "cautionary note", Swartz warns the minister against taking the train journey.
An excerpt from the e-mail read:
"As the minister is aware that since January the region has had six incidents of arson that have led to a loss of nine coaches costing the company R24 million. These acts of vandalism are committed by criminals who are intent on eroding Metrorail's ability to render an effective, reliable and cost-effective service to the people of the Western Cape. Without sounding prescriptive on the Hon Minister's role to hear the views of the commuters, I humbly submit that the minister's actions might have unintended consequences. The statements and the intended visit might serve as a cloak for the criminal elements and give their actions legitimacy which they lacked up to now. The name and good office of the Hon Minister might be used by some destructive elements to galvanise opposition to the much reduced fare increase."
Minister Carlisle responded:
"As the Minister of Transport in the province, it is my business to speak directly to struggling commuters. The insult of price hikes on top of the injuries of a collapsing service and safety and security has been made worse by Metrorail's apparent efforts to hide the true cost of the price hikes."
"What I found this morning is that in reality fares have been hiked up to 50% in some cases. This is largely due to the fact that it appears that hidden in the 'deal' struck by Metrorail, Cosatu and the Chamber of Commerce is the fact that travel zones have been realigned at the same time as fares have been hiked," Minister Carlisle said."
"The senses of indignity inflicted on Metrorail commuters this morning was upsetting. I would like to remind Metrorail that most of their customers are not the kinds of people that have an extra R100 just lying around in their pockets," said the minister.
"Their reactions at the ticket counters were upsetting, with many having to ask fellow travellers to help out with some of the extra money."
"It was also interesting to note that not one of the cashiers I spoke to knew anything about the so-called 'technical glitch'. Every last one of the commuters I spoke to, in Metro and MetroPlus carriages, bemoaned the fact that Metrorail wants more money for a worse service," said Minister Carlisle.
"The Ministry receives complaints about Metrorail's poor service daily, amounting to hundreds of emails and phone calls."
"I will be writing to the National Minister of Transport to ask him to bring down the fares," said Minister Carlisle.
A list of actual fare increases that Minister Carlisle obtained from commuters on this morning's trip:
- Vasco to Cape Town - monthly - R99 to R115 - 16% increase.
- Bellvile to Monte Vista - monthly - R97 to R143 - 47% increase.
- Eerste River to Cape Town - monthly - R117 to R165 - 41% increase.
- Melton Rose to Cape Town - single - R12 to R17 - 41% increase.
- Brackenfell to Cape Town - monthly - R226 to R240 - 6% increase.
- Brackenfell to Maitland - monthly - R191 to R221 - 15% increase.
- Kraaifontein to Cape Town - monthly - R240 to R359 - 49% increase.
- Kraaifontein to Parow - daily - R7.50 to R9 - 20% increase.
- Kraaifontein to Bellville - monthly - R99 to R149 - 50% increase.
- Kraaifontein to Parow - Metroplus - weekly - R62 to R72 - 16% increase.
Cell: 084 233 3811