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Commuters have deserted Metrorail

Another year at best before Cape Town Central line resumes service to Khayelitsha
Last week Thursday, no one was staffing the defaulters’ desk at Cape Town’s main train station. Photo: Tariro Washinyira

It is depressing these days to take the train from Rondebosch to Cape Town. On Thursday last week, there was one other person on the platform.

We bought tickets at noon. The train departed over two hours later.

At Cape Town station the platforms were deserted except for cleaners and some security guards. Billboard advertisements have vanished from the walls. The platform displays show only the time of day instead of information on where the next train is leaving from.

Staff at the information desk could tell us when the next train to Fish Hoek was leaving, but didn’t know from which platform. No one was bothering to staff the defaulters’ desk for people to pay ticket fines.

We found a few commuters hanging around Cape Town station. They complained that since Metrorail has stopped selling weekly or monthly tickets, buying daily tickets is costly. They also complained about the constant changing of platforms.

While we were there, the train to Fish Hoek changed from platform 5 to 6 and then back again to 5.

Our carriage on the 3pm train to Rondebosch had only about 15 people; three more boarded at Salt River.

“I used to pay R50 a week but now it has almost doubled, and the trains are never on time. When you get to the station, they tell you there are no trains or the train is delayed,” said a health worker at a Brooklyn facility.

He said he has commuted by train for 20 years and the trains used to be full of people. He has now given up waiting for a train at Maitland as they are so few and far between.

“People are frustrated and take their anger out on trains. It is also dangerous to be on the train now. They [even] rob people during the day,” he said.

Metrorail spokesperson in the Western Cape Riana Scott continues to try to give helpful answers to our questions despite collapse all around her. She explained that weekly and monthly tickets have been stopped in all Metrorail regions and will only be restarted once an order to do so is made.

Scott said that Metrorail timetables are posted on “with any deviations communicated via social media and station announcements.”

But this website is built on a free platform, with a Mexican domain. The links to the timetables and route maps take you to Google Drive links, and these have not been updated since September 2020. There is no indication that this is an official website. The official Twitter account tells commuters that they should go to (hardly an official site) for timetables. This is what you see at this site:

On 8 March, Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula, responding to GroundUp’s questions, said that the Central Line would be operational by the end of 2021. This message was reiterated on 31 March by Prasa’s Chairperson Leonard Ramatlakane. Ramatlakane was more ambitious speaking to SABC on 9 June, saying that the line would be operational by November 2021. Scott told us that the Central Line will now be operational by May 2022. In eleven days six months have been added to the Central Line’s reopening schedule.

Scott said that currently 151 trains operate daily in the Cape Town region (one train is denoted by a train number on a timetable). Before the hard lockdown the region operated 273 trains per day.

The Central Line, which serves the largest portion of Cape Town’s population, was not operating at this point, having closed in 2019.

Scott said that since the lockdown last year with people now working remotely, revised shifts, alternate days for scholars, a reduced workforce, and compliance with Covid-19 restrictions, had all contributed to lower passenger levels on all modes of public transport. But we have been taking busses and taxis the past week and they are incomparably busier than the trains.


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Everything the anc touch stops working.

Hahahaaaa!!! Useless.

The ANC is impersonating a real government to steal your personal (and company) tax contributions and property. You should go back to the previous page, but you can’t.’

The complete and utter destruction of the Metrorail system, which daily moved hundreds of thousands of mainly lower to middle-class commuters cheaply and efficiently should have been the highest state priority. Both national and provincial.

Yet commuter transport in Cape Town, and I believe Gauteng is now in the hands of a cabal of taxi owners who have a stranglehold on the state.

If anything can be used as a horrific graphic illustrating the collapse of society under the ANC, then this is it.

No electric train has run between Pretoria and East Rand for over a year – infrastructure and overhead cables stolen & vandalised during lockdown in 2020.
And yet, no one seems bothered?

I fear that the Western Cape will not be far enough from Gauteng to retire to in 10 years’ time!

We now have “informal housing” on a section of track and the hundreds of land invaders now demand “alternative housing” before they move. Preventing the transport of thousands of daily commuters. Can you believe that this is possible? Yes! In SA anything is possible as long as it destroys order.

The Soviets ran coal mines at a loss to keep up the illusion of full employment. They could import coal at half the price. The farmers in the USSR fed their pigs subsidized bread because it was cheaper than grain. Cadres of the communist party were deployed throughout the economy where they implemented political policy and executed the commands of the Central Planning Authority, GOSPLAN.
These inefficiencies exacerbated the implosion of the economic implosion of the Soviet Union.

The ANC has cloned this business model. Vote-buying is the sole purpose of SOEs. Incompetent and overpaid workers clog the system while they pretend to execute the orders of grossly incompetent politically connected cadres who are in management positions because of their tire- and school-burning skills. Service delivery is not the goal of SOEs and municipalities. These state institutions are only excuses to throw taxpayer money at cadres and alliance partners. The ANC rewards loyal Tripartite members with inflated salaries and senior positions at imploding SOEs. We have full employment at a train service that has no trains. The taxpayer pays wages and benefits for Metrorail employees while they will never get on a train. The same with SAA and all the others we can mention.

The ENC has created a huge sinkhole under the economy and a small crack will take down the entire system. SAA is such a crack. That is why they are frantically trying to plaster it over with pension fund money.

Another ANC success story.

The cadres must be so proud.

Like Eskom Metrorail have a product they can’t supply and therefore don’t sell and no income and and and and. The trains stop running. But the copper thieves did help a bit. And the train burners as well.

Commuters have deserted Metrorail…after taxi industry thugs burned all the trains. How convenient!!

Everything the ANC touches collapses.

Nothing new to see here, except maybe an opportunity to steal the money they budget to fix metro rail

Atlas shrugged – by sheer and total incompetence.

End of comments.





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