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Police to monitor high-occupancy car day in KZN
 
Durban drivers who travel alone into the city are to be punished with a hefty congestion tax that will force them off motorways ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
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Instead the city and government are trying to get people to use other modes of transport to ease congestion on the roads. Those motorists travelling without any passengers will pay dearly.

The eThekwini Municipality's Transport Authority (ETA) is urging motorists to consider ride-sharing or using public transport.

A recent ETA survey concluded that the use of private vehicles was becoming unsustainable, with the average occupancy during peak periods being 1,4 people per vehicle. The average passenger occupancy of a minibus taxi is 15, and 65 on a bus during peak periods. The city has conceded that for public transport to be a viable option, it will have to provide a better service.

Speaking to the Daily News, city manager Dr Mike Sutcliffe said the congestion tax was going to be a long-term attempt to counter the growing number of traffic gridlocks.

 

At a press briefing on Monday to mark the launch of National Transport Month, KZN Transport Minister Bheki Cele announced plans to promote alternative transport options such as walking, cycling, public transport and car travel with two or more occupants.

This month the department will promote the use of public transport, improvements to transport infrastructure and promote the use of non-motorised transport. A further R23-million has been set aside for driver training. "This is aimed at changing driver behaviour and attitude on the roads to reduce road carnage and build a good image, particularly the image of the taxi industry which has been dented heavily in the eyes of the public."

Cele said his officials would visit taxi ranks to assess the conditions of the ranks and service delivery. At the end of this month, the department and the city will launch the bicycle lane project. "The launch will showcase three levels of cycling - recreational cycling, professional cycling and commuter cycling. This is aimed at promoting non-motorised transport as one of our objectives for transport month," he said.


Sutcliffe said that during the campaign people would be encouraged to use non-motorised modes of transport like cycling, and the public would be made aware that the city intended dedicating certain lanes solely for public transport vehicles.

The congestion tax is expected to be properly enforced within the next three years. It is designed to make it easier for the influx of visitors expected during the tournament.

Annual car sales continue to soar, and if the public does not make more use of public transport, the increased traffic is expected to clog city roads.

Experts in the motoring industry said that cars use 10 percent more fuel when caught up in traffic jams.

Economist Tony Twine said that if motorists used 10 percent more fuel in traffic jams, this would translate into a fuel bill of an extra R13-billion a year.

In London a similar congestion tax was introduced in 2003, and only certain vehicles like motorbikes, those driven by paraplegics, emergency vehicles and alternative fuel vehicles, which met strict emissions standards, were exempt from the tax.


This article was originally published on page 1 of Daily News on October 02, 2006
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