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Smart Mobility: Gautrain the sustainable way of travel!

The theme for October Transport Month 2020 is Smart Mobility.  Smart Mobility is an innovative way of getting around. it is the use of various transport modes that are smarter, cleaner, safer and integrated. It is about using technology to respond to the modern commuter’s needs such as the demand for convenience, access to information at all times, a high tech-adoption rate, time and cost savings and increasing environmentally consciousness with various benefits. 

The Gautrain is a smart mobility mode of transport as it provides a smart, clean, safe and integrated public transport service with social, economic, spatial and environmental benefits.

Since its inception as a smart public transport mode, Gautrain has maintained high levels of operational efficiency. The train service operations achieved an average availability of 99.66% and punctuality of 98.11% over the last year. This was backed by excellent personal and property safety and security within the System keeping incidents below a 1% level. Safety and security targets for Gautrain passengers are met through the security enhancement plans.

Gautrain passengers can now use their credit or debit cards to tag in and out of stations, buses and parking facilities. This “tap and go” technology is the first phase of a broader “smart ticketing” plan that will extend to other public transport modes with incentives such as interoperator discounts or rebates.

The service has influenced travel behaviors and currently 70% of trips on the Gautrain cross a city boundary linking important attractions, facilities and services across the region.  Each person who has chosen to make a trip on Gautrain instead of by car has delivered approximately R74 of economic benefit in a form of reducing costs from fatal accidents, provided carbon dioxide CO2 emission savings and 22 minutes of time saved on average.

As a smart mobility mode Gautrain wants to go fully green. It is therefore pursuing a sustainable urban mobility plan, which will include procuring new buses with an integrated chassis, meaning it will be possible to convert them to run on electric, hydrogen or hybrid power.

Investigations are underway into using and even producing hydrogen to power Gautrain buses – a far cleaner fuel option than diesel. You may soon be able to charge your electric or hybrid car at Gautrain stations, which will also be retrofitted with solar panels to offset their power requirements. This green mobility plan will also help commuters to offset their carbon footprint.

Compared to road transport, rail provides lower carbon transport solutions to promote a greener Gauteng. The Department of Transport’s Green Transport Strategy builds on the Department of Environmental Affairs’ 2014 Mitigation Report that provides estimates of the potential CO2 emissions reductions that can be achieved through modal shifts in the transport sector, and the estimated costs of achieving these reductions per ton of avoided CO2 emissions. While the initial capital costs are high (approximately R3 000 per tonne of carbon dioxide saved), by 2050 these investments will provide a return of over R1,000 per tonne of CO2saved, with up to over 9,000 kilo-tonnes of CO2 that can be saved through the shift from private vehicles to passenger rail.

Rolling out the Gauteng Rapid Rail Integrated Network (GRINN) extensions is another way the Gautrain contributes to the smart mobility concept by benefiting the economy and society.  The GRINN will give workers more access to employment opportunities. It is projected that phase one of the extensions will create close to 29,000 jobs during construction and an additional 7,729 long-term jobs during start of its operations. The GRINN Phase 1’s project is also expected to invest approximately R388 million skills development during the construction phase and a further R29 million during operations of the phase.  Phase 1 economic benefits arising from the construction and operation of GRRIN is estimated at total present value of R33 billion.

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