Tag Archives: Future Cape Town

Will the Atlantic Seaboard MyCiTi Bus service ever get off the ground?

A question on Twitter over the weekend about the likely commencement of the MyCiti Bus service on the Atlantic Seaboard generated a most surprising response from the City of Cape Town’s Councillor for Transport, Roads and Stormwater Brett Herron.   It seems that it is unsure when the MyCiTi Bus service will be rolled out on the Atlantic Seaboard, having been announced to commence last November, and now in February!

Councillor Herron (surprisingly) referred me to a link to ‘Future Cape Town‘, a blog written by a duo of childish unprofessional Tweeters, in which Rouen Smit has written about the ‘event kidnappers’, who are ‘hijacking the expectations of entire cities and countries to their eleventh-hour demands‘.  The bottom line appears to be that in Cape Town ‘transport monopolies’ are the ‘event kidnappers’, being the taxi industry and Golden Arrow bus company, the latter objecting to the City of Cape Town’s application for operating licences for all nine feeder routes into the city.

Herron on Twitter and Smit in the blogpost call for commuters to raise their voice about the delays, so that they can mobilise and speed up the introduction of the MyCiTi Bus service in the areas where the service is ready to roll, as in Camps Bay for example.  Smit argues that not having the service is too small a cost to mobilise the community into protest action, as appears to help other causes.

The end result is that the alleged monopolistic transport providers are denying commuters the benefit of the new service, millions of Rands of ratepayers’ monies having been paid to set up the service, and designed to save them time and money, and provide a safe route to work, shopping and entertainment.  Herron Tweeted that the City of Cape Town needs help to get the service introduced, and to get the operating licences approved, requesting commuters to ‘demand the service. Write the operating board. Make noise about the objections’.

It would be a shame if such an efficient modern bus service, which would benefit not only residents but many tourists who do not want to rent a car, and who expect a transportation system which they deem to be missing in our otherwise world class city!  Atlantic Seaboard Councillor Bev Schafer Tweeted that the MyCiTi Bus service can now be expected to be introduced in April or May, just when the tourist season has come to a grinding halt!

POSTSCRIPT 18/2: Councillor Herron sent the following additional up-to-date information via e-mail: this afternoon, sounding very optimistic about the hold-up coming to an end soon:

“Thank you for engaging with me on Twitter, over the weekend, about the roll out of the MyCiTi service on the Atlantic Seaboard.  I referred you to a piece published on Future Cape Town’s website simply to provide you with some quick context for the delays and to underscore a concern that I have that in the debate about operating licences the most important voice, that of the commuters, is missing.

In order to commence the permanent feeder routes that make up the bulk of Phase 1A we require operating licences. The licensing board is an independent body established by the Provincial government. The City’s vehicle operating companies, formed as part of the industry transition process (and made up of directly affected taxi associations), commenced the licensing application process in good time – in August last year. Three taxi associations (who claim to be partially affected by the proposed new MyCiTi service) and Golden Arrow Bus Service submitted objections to the licences applied for. The tribunal scheduled hearings in November and January, but these were postponed by the tribunal at the request of the objectors. The hearings eventually took place in early February 2013 and the parties had until Friday 15 February 2013 to submit their respective written arguments. At the commencement of the proceedings two of the three taxi associations withdrew their objections. I think it is safe to say that the process has now closed and the tribunal must make its decision.  As I indicated, the tribunal is independent and exercises an administrative justice type role. I trust that they will do so expeditiously but I have no way of knowing when they will make their decision. Assuming licences are in fact approved we will then commence the roll out of the new services in a phased manner as soon as possible“.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Cape Town Stadium new commercial hub for Cape Town?

An elaborate plan to meet the R40 million or so annual shortfall in funding the Cape Town Stadium could see a ‘commercialisation’ of the Green Point sport and entertainment facility, to secure its survival, and to reduce the financial pressure on the City of Cape Town and its ratepayers.  The plan announcement has been overshadowed by SAA’s decision to cut the direct Cape Town-London route from 15 August, news which was announced on the same day, and is currently of far greater concern to the local tourism industry.

The City has been advised by consultants to turn the R4 billion Cape Town Stadium and neighbouring Green Point Park into a commercialised zone, which would allow nightclubs, shops, coffee shops, sports bars, restaurants, letting of office space, and even a sport hospital to be set up in the area, reports the Cape Argus.  In addition, stadium tours, a museum, a ‘hall of fame’, and a Sports Science Institute are planned. This would help Cape Town to be positioned as a ‘leading events, investment and tourist destination’, says the newspaper report.  The Stadium operating costs amount to R50 million per annum, with only R11 million earned in the past nine months. Ideally, the City of Cape Town would seek an anchor tenant. Talks with the Western Cape Rugby Union are said to be  ‘at a very early stage’, despite having been initiated a year ago already.  The City had to take back the management of the stadium when negotiations for its agreement with Sail Stadefrance fell through.

Other South African World Cup soccer stadia are offering guided tours of their facilities, and some have restaurants and shops too.  Looking to inspiration overseas, Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium complex consists of hotels, flats, a nightclub, bars, restaurants, a megastore, and Chelsea World of Sport.

The City of Cape Town plans to apply to the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, to change the ‘Record of Decision’ for the stadium and the Green Point Park alongside it, with the view to change its zoning, which defines its uses.  Currently the zoning prohibits the commercialisation of the stadium and of the park, and would prevent the recommendations of its consultants, i.e setting up retail outlets, renting out parking space, and letting office space.  City of Cape Town Councillor Grant Pascoe, Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events, and Marketing, has delegated the task of negotiating with the province to his relatively new Executive Director and head of his department, Anton Groenewald.

The Green Point Residents and Ratepayers’ Association has supported the plan in part, not wishing to see ‘blanket’ business rights for the area.

While the financial benefits of generating more income from the attractive and well positioned Cape Town Stadium have merit, we cannot see the proposed commercialisation thereof having any benefit to Cape Town’s positioning as an events, investment, and tourist destination, as claimed by the City of Cape Town. The City of Cape Town does not have a good track record of running tourism nor of organising events, the 8 Nations Under 20 soccer tournament which finished last week being embarrassing proof of this!

POSTSCRIPT 9/6: Interesting is an article in the Cape Argus, which reports that the City of Cape Town’s MyCiTi bus service ‘could need a R500 million yearly subsidy’, making the cost of the Cape Town Stadium look like small change!  This is not its running cost – the City of Cape Town approved a R1,2 billion budget for the public transport system for the  2012/2013 financial year!

POSTSCRIPT 14/6: Exciting news is that Manchester United will play a friendly match against Ajax Cape Town at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday 21 July. Ticket prices will range from R150 – R350. The cost to the City of Cape Town is R7 million, Councillor Grant Pascoe is quoted as saying in Business Day, and 100 international journalists are expected to cover the event.

POSTSCRIPT 18/6: Even more exciting news is that Lady Gaga is coming to Cape Town on 3 December, for the ‘Born this Way Ball’ world concert tour, one of 110 in total.  The concert will be at the Cape Town Stadium.

POSTSCRIPT 29/6: The Cape Argus has reported that 23000 tickets were sold in the first 24 hours of ticket sales opening up for the Manchester United match. On City of Cape Town Councillor Grant Pascoe’s Twitter timeline we have read that ticket sales have now exceeded 39000. A total of 50000 tickets is for sale.  The newspaper also reported that a special Guinness Book of World Records attempt to have the largest number of persons collectively singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Nelson Mandela in one place. Councillor Pascoe has justified spending R 6,1 million, with an income benefit of R2 million, because of the tourism benefit of the event. To date no such tourism benefit is evident!

POSTSCRIPT 29/6:  Earlier this week activist’ Terry Crawford-Brown has been vocal in The Times, in the Cape Argus, and the Atlantic Sun in calling for the demolition of the R 4 billion ‘white elephant’ Cape Town Stadium, and accused FIFA of ‘blackmailing‘ the city into building the stadium. The stadium’s construction was ‘unconstitutional‘, he claimed, given that the building of the stadium was not open, transparent, fair, nor cost-effective.  Councillor Pascoe clearly is annoyed by Mr Crawford-Brown’s communication, having refused to comment on it to The Times, and Tweeting disparagingly about it.

POSTSCRIPT 29/6:  The City’s design of the new Green Point Athletics Stadium, on the site of the original Green Point Stadium and adjacent to Cape Town Stadium, is disappointing, wrote Rashiq Fataar and Robert Bowen of Future Cape Town, in only allowing for 7000 spectator seats, reported the Cape Argus this week. The duo also is critical of its unexciting design, and not being worthy of Cape Town, lacking ‘a spirit and a character’.

POSTSCRIPT 29/6: The Times reported a week ago that the Green Point Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association are ‘set to go to war with council’ over any new developments relating to Cape Town Stadium.  In building the stadium, the Green Point community was promised in 2006 that the commercial development of the previous Green Point Common would not be allowed. The association feels that the planned commercialisation would not cover the cost shortfall.

POSTSCRIPT 1/7: Councillor Pascoe has told the Cape Argus that demolishing the stadium is not an option! Capetonians polled by the newspaper showed that locals are proud of the world-class stadium and its design, and call for it to become the home of Western Province rugby.

POSTCRIPT 1/7: From Tweets seen it would appear that the Manchester United – Ajax Cape Town match at Cape Town Stadium is sold out.

POSTSCRIPT 4/7: Horror of horrors for Green Point residents: notorious ANC City Councillor and COSATU provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich is creating outrage by his suggestion that the stadium be used for low cost housing! The Green Point Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association has rejeceted the proposal, as the title deed does not allow it, reports The Times.

POSTSCRIPT 19/7: The R81 million Green Point Athletics Stadium, being built in the shadow of the Cape Town Stadium, is having Green Point residents fear that a second white elephant is about to appear on their doorstep, reports People’s Post. They also fear the noise levels which could be emanating from the new stadium.

POSTSCRIPT 26/7: The Times reported yesterday that the City of Cape Town has approved the rezoning of the ‘Green Point‘ (sic) Stadium for commercial activity. It will now seek approval from the Western Cape province ‘to amend the land use rights’ for the Cape Town Stadium.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage