Governing the GCR series: Unrealistic expectations, unrealised – Bus rapid transit in Johannesburg
Johannesburg’s bus rapid transit (BRT) system, Rea Vaya, was a major intervention into the space economy of the city, intended to build a more just, transit-oriented urban future. Planned and built at great speed in the context of preparations for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, the high running costs and poor service of the system have attracted increasing criticism by policymakers, and the system has never realised its ambitious objectives. This Provocation argues that apart from some extremely preliminary financial analyses, the high costs of the Rea Vaya system were never in doubt, and its construction reflected the decision that its costs were reasonable in light of its social and spatial necessity.
However the Provocation also argues that while building Rea Vaya or something like it was necessary, it was always going to be insufficient to drive major spatial change in Johannesburg. A number of additional spatial interventions were and are essential to support transport reform, including a redistributive approach to urban development; using housing to drive spatial transformation and create the basis for mass public transport; enforcing mixed land use, good urbanism, and walkability; and integrating with other modes of transport, in particular minibus taxis.
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Governing the GCR series: The greater Paris debate – reflections for the Gauteng City-Region
This Provocation draws on the stimuli and progression of widespread, deep debate in and about the Paris region in order to contemplate possibilities for wider, creative and informed discussions on the present and future of the Gauteng City-Region (GCR) that it currently lacks. Around the world, large, polycentric and highly diverse ‘city-regions’ pose challenges to the construction of governmental institutions. Residents of such regions do not necessarily share the perceptions of professionals and politicians, and often adhere to more local understandings of their identities. Proposals, plans and debates about the future of city-regions frequently take place out of public view. There are, however, cases in which much broader participation in debate has been accomplished. That has been particularly true in the Paris city-region over the past two decades. The question posed in this Provocation is what there may be to learn from the Paris region case, specifically for widening debate about future prospects for the GCR.
The paper describes the context of the Paris region and the search, over several decades, for ways of institutionalising the region with its multilayered forms of government. Since the early 2000s, competing approaches emerged from national government, the Région of Île-de-France (similar to a province) and the City of Paris (together with its collaborators in other municipalities). National government first stimulated wide debate through sponsoring the production of diverse depictions of the future of the city-region, after which responses from other actors accelerated public discussion through mobilising both histories of change as well as alternative visions of the future. Official public debate in 2010 and 2011 focused on different proposals for massive new investments in a new passenger rail system, emerging as the Grand Paris Express (GPE) project currently under construction. That debate proceeded to overlap into debates about the development of a new governmental entity at a different scale from existing bodies. Such a body came into existence in 2016, namely the Métropole du Grand Paris. Throughout this period, different public, private and non-governmental actors widened and deepened public discussion.
Finally, the Provocation considers how the Paris region experience might inform the expansion of public discussion in the GCR, and suggests roles within this discussion for all stakeholders, including the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (which has already sponsored and produced relevant materials), businesses, not-for-profit organisations and government actors.
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Governing the GCR series: Strengthening governance in the GCR through a spatial data infrastructure - the case of address data
Geospatial data, such as administrative boundaries, property information, addresses, streets and utility networks, provide the backbone for city governance. Availability, accessibility and usability of such data and related services are typically facilitated through a spatial data infrastructure (SDI), which requires careful stakeholder coordination and an information-driven approach that can unlock the value of geospatial data. This Provocation reviews the current state of affairs regarding address data in the Gauteng City-Region (GCR) and explores prospects for coordinating a GCR address dataset in an SDI context.
The focus is on addresses because of their important role in service delivery, the socio-economic well-being of residents and the recognition of civic and human rights. For example, good quality addresses are vital in the current COVID-19 crisis, as government strives to map COVID-19 cases in order to identify emerging local clusters of infections and spatially target responses. Currently, address data in the GCR are maintained in silos at different provincial departments and municipalities, without any coordination and without adherence to international standards and good practices for addressing and information management. This results in duplication, inconsistencies and even fraud, which not only costs the municipalities, national and provincial governments billions but also damages their reputations.
To rectify this, this Provocation identifies various entities for taking the responsibility to methodically coordinate GCR address data into a single reference dataset. Since many entities have a legal accountability related to address data, a decision and strong political leadership are required to lead multiple interventions and initiatives in parallel with the aim of reaping benefits for governance and society in the long run. As Gauteng is one of few provinces with municipal address datasets, the GCR could serve as an example for coordinating the maintenance of geospatial datasets among its municipalities, as few (if any) such datasets exist in South African municipalities, provinces and national departments.