n Journal of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering = Joernaal van die Suid-Afrikaanse Instituut van Siviele Ingenieurswese - Comparison of travel time between private car and public transport in Cape Town : technical paper

Volume 57, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1021-2019



The objective of urban transportation planning is, or should be, to optimise the access to opportunities for all people. One of the factors that defines access is to minimise the travel time between home and both primary and secondary activities. Optimisation refers to the balance between the benefits of reducing travel time with the cost of that reduction. Cost includes operational, infrastructure and environmental costs. However, the reality in many cities is that travel time is often minimised for some users or communities, while it remains relatively high for others.

This paper explores the core components of travel time of an integrated public transport system, and compares that with travel time in the private transport system. This is done by using travel time data for Cape Town to estimate the value of time spent on each component of a typical trip in Cape Town in 2013.
The paper concludes that travelling by public transport takes significantly longer than by private car for the average trip in Cape Town. It then highlights where to focus investment in the public transport system to move towards an integrated, multi-modal system that can compete with the private car, and thereby become attractive to all communities.

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