Transport is one of the most critical issues facing South Africans today. Most South Africans believe that education is the highest priority in the country, followed closely by transport and health. Aspects such as the economy, infrastructure and employment received a far lower rating, according to the latest independent survey of transport opinion.
The University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS Africa) today, Thursday, 06 March, released the ITLS State of Transport Opinion Poll (2013/14), a survey gauging South Africans’ confidence in transport. The second annual survey of over 1,000 adults across South Africa showed that transport is still one of the highest priorities in our society today.
According Ms Rose Luke, ITLS researcher: “The top five transport issues are, in order, the quality of roads, the state of public transport, high transport/fuel costs, the lack of sufficient transport services and taxi related issues.” This is similar to the 2012/13 results, however the quality of roads has now been identified as a much higher priority than before. Although this is true for most provinces, Gauteng respondents identified e-tolling as their single highest transport priority issue. When asked if they would be willing to pay toll fees if their daily travel time was reduced, most Gauteng respondents indicated that they would not. Respondents from the Western Cape were similarly negative about the prospect. Although the other provinces were generally not supportive of e-tolling, they tended towards greater indifference to this issue.
Respondents were also tested on the conditions of selected transport facilities and services, i.e. BRT, taxis, buses and rail services, condition of roads and congestion. BRT services have been positively received, with 62% of Western Cape residents indicating the service as very good. Although well received, only 50% of Gauteng residents rated BRT as very good. Western Cape respondents were similarly positive about of the quality of their roads, however respondents from the Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and the North West indicated this as very poor and gave it their lowest rating. Despite frequent negative publicity, taxi services were rated as very good by respondents from Limpopo, the Free State and Mpumalanga. Although rural areas, towns and villages and small cities generally identify the conditions of roads as the area that requires urgent attention, metro areas have indicated this to be road congestion.
Only 39% of South Africans feel that transport in their local area is better now than a year ago, down from 43% in 2012/13, indicating that respondents perceive a decline in transport in their surrounds. Generally speaking, respondents were far less positive about the future of transport in 2013 than they were in 2012. Metros and small cities were more negative than rural areas, villages and towns. Respondents who believe that transport in their local areas is in a worse state than a year ago cite their main reasons as the declining quality of roads, availability of transport, road safety, transport service quality and taxi related aspects.
When tested on the culture of non-adherence to traffic laws and the state of law enforcement, South Africans indicated a strong need for more traffic officers and higher visibility, better and stricter law enforcement and the need to eliminate corruption within the traffic services.
This year’s survey indicates that South Africans are far more concerned about the state of transport than they were a year ago. According to Gert Heyns, ITLS researcher: “This is largely attributable to the declining state of road infrastructure, although soaring transport costs and the lack of appropriate public transport services also play a major role.”
The State of Transport Opinion Poll is the first survey to measure transport opinions on a regular basis and aims to be a reliable indicator of South Africans’ changing attitudes towards transport. The Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies at the University of Johannesburg provides education and conducts research in transport, logistics and supply chain management.