Advice and Opinion

Sandton Central shares answers to the top questions asked about the EcoMobility World Festival

As the EcoMobility World Festival draws nearer, so the interest in this global event growing. Driven by the City of Johannesburg and taking place in the Sandton CBD from 1 October to 31 October 2015, the upcoming EcoMobility Festival is part of the city’s plan to decongest traffic and give preference to public transport, bicycles and pedestrians on our streets.

Getting around the Sandton CBD is going to be different during the month-long festival that introduces new pedestrian zones, cycling lanes, public transport lanes, public transport resources and managed vehicle access on a few streets.

“Having the right information will help Sandton’s street users to adapt to the changes and take part in this opportunity to find new, better, and more environmentally respectful ways of getting around Sandton, as part of this global event,” says Elaine Jack, City Improvement District Manager for Sandton Central Management District (SCMD).

To help the people who work, visit and live in Sandton stay informed about the access during the festival, SCMD has been a platform of communication between the City of Johannesburg and businesses in the Sandton CBD. It has facilitated communication over the past ten months in preparation for the festival. More recently, it has provided simple, easy-to-understand information to help everyone get around the Sandton CBD during the festival on www.sandtoncentral.co.za, Twitter @SandtonCentral and on the Sandton Central Facebook page.

Sharing its insight into what people want to know about the festival, based on the queries it receives, Sandton Central has compiled this list of 15 frequently asked questions, and the corresponding answers.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT GETTING AROUND DURING THE ECOMOBILITY WORLD FESTIVAL 

Will Sandton be shut to vehicles?

No, it will still be open to vehicles. Visitors will still have full access to the Sandton CBD during the festival. However, there are streets that will have managed access. There will be no through routes on West Street or Maude Street. The section of Maude Street from West to Rivonia will be a one way eastbound. Alice Lane, Gwen Lane and Maude Street between 5th and West Street will effectively be cul-de-sacs.

What is the best way to get around in Sandton during the festival?

If you are bringing your vehicle to the area, plan your route. You can get all the information about the Transport Management Plan at www.ecomobilityfestival.org. However, the festival is all about placing emphasis on using public transport, walking and cycling as ways to move in and out of the CBD. So, in the spirit of the festival, it is a good time to embrace this unique and interesting opportunity to try new ways to move around Sandton.

Will there be additional security on the streets?

The SAPS and JMPD are working closely with the City of Johannesburg to ensure that safety is the highest priority. There are also measures to improve the safety of walkways, cycle routes and public transport. New infrastructure will keep pedestrians and cyclists off the road at some points which improves their safety. Users are still encouraged to travel in groups and during daytime, if at all possible. There will be extra security at those park-and-rides that are not located at shopping malls.

How are the people living far from Sandton supposed to integrate their travelling arrangements?

There are park-and-ride services being provided to link people in with public transport and alternative transport into and out of Sandton.

Weekdays:

For a R10 flat parking fee, from 6am to 7pm, park-and-ride services will operate from Maponya Mall and Orlando Stadium in Soweto, Cresta Shopping Centre, Montecasino, Emperor’s Palace in Kempton Park, Melrose Arch, Westgate Shopping Centre, Randburg Square, and Balfour Park Shopping Centre. For no charge, the park-and-ride service operates from Brightwater Commons from 6am to 7pm, and from 6am to 8pm the service will operate from George Lea Park, Marie Avenue City Power Servitude and Innesfree Park. Sandton City Roof Parking will also operate as a park and ride within Sandton CBD, with a R10 flat parking fee.

Weekend events:

Park-and-ride services will be available from George Lea Park, Marie Avenue Servitude, Innesfree Park, Randburg Square and Balfour Park Shopping Centres.

Please check the www.ecomobilityfestival.org for the latest on park-and-ride facilities, different rates and the types of transport that each links with.

Will people incur additional costs for using park-and-ride facilities and public transport to get into Sandton CBD?

People will save on their petrol costs and on their vehicle’s wear-and-tear. The maximum park-and-ride flat rate cost is R10 in addition to the cost charged by the provider of the public transport or alternative transport used.

There is a lack of proper public transport system in Sandton.

One of the aims of the EcoMobility World Festival is to give people a preview of a future transport system where public transport, walking and cycling become the modes of choice. For public transport during the festival, people can choose from Metrobus, the Gautrain, Gautrain buses, and Putco as well as minibus taxis. Travelling from point-to-point within Sandton can be done on tuk-tuks, pedi-cabs, electric vehicles and metered taxis, including the Uber service. This will be supported by dedicated public transport lanes and dedicated cycling routes.

Will there be marshals to ensure that taxis do not use the cycling lane?

Safe cycling routes will be in place during October. They will be clearly signposted, marshals will be on duty to facilitate the traffic and improved safety measures will be taken, especially at intersections.

What will happen if the festival results in more congestion than usual?

It is likely that the first day of the festival won’t be business as usual, as people are faced with the changed road uses for the first time. However the festival is essentially an experiment, so it will go on. If there are elements that don’t work, it will be a lesson for the City. It is important to deal with the growing traffic congestion around Sandton. If people continue come to Sandton only in private cars, it will only get worse. The City is providing public transport and alternative transport for the festival. The festival encourages dialogues about what works, what doesn’t and what can be done better. Besides the changes to the road uses, there are lots of other aspects to it, like legacy projects, weekend activities, and important dialogues.

Will private vehicles be allowed in Sandton?

Yes, private cars will still have access to all parking in Sandton on weekdays, but your trip may take longer and your travel route may be different. However, the city’s traffic engineers have indicated that if 30% of people coming into Sandton use park-and-rides, it will be a lot easier for those vehicle users that do come into Sandton to get around.

Will emergency services and law enforcement be able to move around freely?

Yes. In addition, the City has set up a joint ops committee together with the local SAPS, emergency medical services and private security active in the area, so that in the case of a large emergency, everything that needs to be done can happen quickly. There will also be a much bigger than normal JMPD deployment in the area, especially for the public transport loop and the managed access and lanes.

Does anyone need to apply for permits?

No, no permits are required. At the entrances to roads that are being used differently, there will be managed access points where vehicle users will be advised about what to expect on a specific route, such as having to turn around because the road forms a temporary cul-de-sac.

What vehicles will be allowed in the public transport lanes?

Vehicles with over eight occupants – busses, minibus taxis and some tourism and corporate shuttles.

What does the City of Johannesburg intend to achieve by having the EcoMobility World Festival in Sandton?

The City’s long-term vision is to turn Sandton inside-out. Any CBD should have lots of street life. The City wants to enable a street culture and open up its streets. One of the dialogues at the festival will look at how to have open and safe streets, and there are great examples of countries around the world that have really been able to rejuvenate their streets through promoting cycling and walking.

Will people change the way they move around Sandton during the Festival?

Changing behaviour is never easy, but this is a great opportunity to give it a try. The idea is for as many people as possible to experience different ways of getting around during the EcoMobility World Festival. We want everyone to come to Sandton – whether it be by car, bus, train, walking, cycling – even if it is only for one day.