Tuk-tuks out to tender

MATTHEW HIRSCH

The streets of the City Bowl and Atlantic Seaboard will soon be home to a new form of public transport in the form of those three-wheeled taxis called tuk-tuks.

The City of Cape Town has invited tenders for the provision of tuk-tuk public transport services.

The initial areas where the tuk-tuk vehicles will be allowed to operate include Fresnaye, Bantry Bay, Sea Point, Green Point, Bo-Kaap, De Waterkant, Tamboerskloof, District 6, Walmer Estate and Zonnebloem, as well as St James, Kalk Bay, Simon’s Town and Fish Hoek.

Brett Herron, the City’s mayoral committee member for transport, said the tender process would be used to appoint public transport operators for 80 tuk-tuks in those areas.

“The tuk-tuk vehicles are intended for those wanting to travel short distances of 3km or less to local destinations. The people who will make use of the tuk-tuk vehicles are those who do not necessarily want to make use of a metered taxi service, but also do not want to walk 2km or 3km to their destination.

“We will make 80 operating licences available, but we have not decided as yet how many tuk-tuk vehicles will be allowed to operate in each area.

“Also, even though the outcome of the tender process will determine the number of operators to be appointed, the City will not appoint more than eight successful bidders.”

Mr Herron added that preference would be given to those bidders who will make use of electric vehicles.

“The City is committed to limiting carbon emissions. This is why we have issued a tender for the acquisition of electric buses for the MyCiTi bus service. Bidders with environmentally friendly tuk-tuks will therefore receive bonus points during the bidding process. Ideally we would like to see the tuk-tuk vehicles transporting commuters to their nearest MyCiTi station or stop from where they will be able to board a bus to complete their journey. Potential tuk-tuk operators will have to submit a business plan and in those areas where the MyCiTi service is operating they should indicate how they intend to operate the tuk-tuks in support of the MyCiTi service.”

The operators will be contracted for a period of 36 months.

“However, we will undertake a full review of the services after 30 months so that we can determine the success and shortcomings of the tuk-tuk services in general.

“This is the first time that Cape Town will have legal tuk-tuk services operating on our roads and we therefore want to ensure that it meets the expectations of the commuters, operators and the City,” Mr Herron.

Jenny McQueen, chairperson of the Green Point Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association, said the tuk-tuks could benefit the area.

“Green Point is quite a hilly area and if people can use them to get to the bus stops then it could be a good thing.”

She said residents living on Ocean View Drive didn’t have access to the MyCiTi service after the route had been discontinued last year. “I think it will ease congestion to a certain extent,” said Ms McQueen.

David Polovin, chairperson of the Sea Point, Fresnaye and Bantry Bay (SFB) Ratepayers’ Association, said they would support any initiative that saw less private cars on the road.

“I think it is an amazing idea. They (tuk tuks) are common place in other countries in the world where congestion is a big problem. I think we have to go more towards public transport and we will support whatever encourages this.”

Osman Shaboodien, chairperson of the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers’ Association, said the City should consult with residents before making any final decision on routes.

“There are a few things that the City should take into consideration. One of these is the noise factors. Bo-Kaap is an urban area that is very hilly.”

He also said that it needed to be planned carefully. “If you look at the MyCiTi routes, it seemed that Bo-Kaap was by-passed. Surely there needs to be better planning?”

Prospective bidders will be required to submit a comprehensive business plan as part of the bidding process. The tuk-tuk operators will have to comply with strict operating conditions, including that drivers must be in possession of a public transport driving licence and drivers should receive special training on the local geography and customer etiquette.

Some of the operating conditions will include that a tuk-tuk may not transport more than three people, including the driver; children younger than 13 must be accompanied by an adult; the distance of the trip may not exceed 3km and the maximum speed will be 30km/* .

The tuk-tuks will not be able to transport commuters along MyCiTi routes and minibus-taxi routes during the operating hours of these public transport services and the operating licence will be withdrawn if the vehicle standards are not met, the vehicle is overloaded, and when it is operating on an illegal route.

The fares charged should be in accordance with the City’s fares policy for contracted road-based public transport.

* The origin of the word tuk-tuk, according to the South African Pocket Oxford Dictionary, Third Edition, is Thai, from the sound of its two-stroke engine.