Transit-oriented development to determine Cape Town’s future

By the year 2032, the City of Cape Town wants to be the most efficient city in Africa – not only in terms of how it is managed, but also for the millions who will be living and working in the metropole. As such, transit-oriented development (TOD) has been identified as one of the key components to achieve this outcome.

The benefits of TOD, how to implement it, and the way it has transformed other cities across the world that are also grappling with urbanisation, counted among the discussions that took place at the Transport for Cape Town TOD Summit over the past two days at the Cape Town Stadium in Green Point.

World-renowned experts on TOD, urban planning and public transport such as Luc Nadal from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy in New York; Frank Cumming, director and founding principal of RegenCo; and Rashiq Fataar, independent project consultant and founder of Our Future Cities led the discussions on how the City can implement TOD to undo apartheid-era spatial planning and to mitigate the effects of increasing urbanisation.

‘How we develop and use our urban spaces for living, working and travelling will very much determine the quality of life of our residents in the years to come. We are also committed to building an inclusive city where the future of our residents is not defined by where they live, but rather where everyone has the opportunity to unlock and cultivate their full potential. This is why Transport for Cape Town (TCT), in its Integrated Public Transport Network (IPTN) plan for the next 18 years, has taken the path of comprehensive transit-oriented development to ensure that we bring our residents closer to their workplace and that we improve the access to and efficiency of public transport across the city,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member: Transport for Cape Town, Councillor Brett Herron.

Development in the city is currently characterised by low densities, long distances between residential areas and workplaces, as well as historical disparities where the majority of low-income residents live far away from work opportunities and have to spend a significant percentage of their income on transport.

TOD is the planning, design and implementation approach that TCT will be championing to reverse these anomalies.

It is important to note that the IPTN plan makes the unequivocal link between the viability of public transport and an effective land-use strategy. Densification (dwellings per hectare), the mix (residential combined with commercial as is the case in Century City), and distribution (the location of residential, office, industrial and recreational sites) affects public transport in terms of the cost, optimal use and viability.

For the City’s public transport system to be viable and efficient, more passengers have to live and work in close proximity to the trunk routes, be it rail or bus. Furthermore, the land has to be developed in such a manner that it leads to increased density along these routes, and the development must be the right mix between residential and commercial, where residents have easy access to fresh food and government services close to their homes.

‘We want to build a city with a high-quality public transport system where commuters will be able to walk or cycle to the nearest station, enabling residents to live car-independent lifestyles. Furthermore, we will be able to provide more frequent public transport services and for longer hours if we can succeed in increasing the density of developments along the bus and rail corridors.

‘It is important to keep in mind that employing TOD as a development guide and tool means far more than simply increasing densities. TOD is an approach that is very focused on improving quality of life within a precinct that is well-located for access to transport, amenities, shopping and employment. A well-executed TOD precinct includes quality public spaces that are conducive to walking and cycling,’ said Councillor Herron.

The City is in the process of drafting a TOD Strategy which will determine the future of public transport systems across the city. This strategy is to be completed within the next 10 months.

‘The main points of the discussions at the TOD Summit will be harvested and used to shape this strategy, which is a critical step to ensure that we have a very clear direction of where the City wants to go over the next 20 years or so. It must also assist us in dealing with the existing and future needs of a population that is already highly urbanised,’ said Councillor Herron.