Gershwin Fortune is the acting Executive Director of the City of Cape Town’s Transport Directorate. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the University of Cape Town (1998) and a Master’s in Engineering (cum laude) from Stellenbosch University (2006).
He has 19 years’ experience predominantly in local government and international experience with the World Bank. His career has traversed the transportation planning and engineering disciplines covering integrated transport planning, transport policy formulation, transport system management improvements, traffic engineering, public transport planning and design, non-motorised transport planning and design, travel demand management, transport demand modelling, project management and integration. He has been involved in the Cape Town’s MyCiTi BRT project since its inception in 2008 leading the technical system planning and guiding the successful roll-out of the MyCiTi services. In 2011, Gershwin was appointed Manager: System Planning and Modelling responsible for the development of the city’s Integrated Public Transport Network (IPTN) plan.
In 2016 he joined the World Bank as an Urban Transport Specialist, returning to the City of Cape Town in 2017 as Portfolio Manager: Integrated Transport to drive the establishment of an integrated transport network.
- June 12: Opening Pandora’s Box: Transforming Cities and Reaching Operational Excellence through BRT Systems
Lessons from Cape Town: rolling out Bus Rapid Transit in an African cityThe City of Cape Town’s Bus Rapid Transit system, MyCiTi, commenced operations in 2010, and continues to roll-out as part of Cape Town’s Integrated Public Transport Network. As the system approaches its first decade of operations many important lessons have emerged. Financial sustainability is the key challenge. Underestimating the difficulty of developing a financially sustainable model should be avoided, as fare box takings are unable to cover the full cost of operations. This implies an ongoing requirement for operating subsidies from national government if the system is to continue expanding. Aspects of the network also contribute to the challenge of achieving a robust business model as vehicles need to achieve sufficient travel speeds to grow revenue. When buses operate in mixed traffic costs balloon. This underscores the need to prioritise the development of trunk routes, as well as dedicated rights-of-way for feeder services.
In Cape Town paratransit operators, who transport passengers in minibus taxis, are an important part of the transport network moving people efficiently around the city. In Phase 1A of MyCiTi paratransit operators were compensated for the surrender of their operating licences and formed vehicle operating companies that provide operating services to the system. As the City of Cape Town embarks on Phase 2A of MyCiTi, a different approach to paratransit operators is developing – a ‘hybrid’ model in which minibus taxis participate by providing feeder and other services. Urban planning that incorporates mixed land use has also emerged as an important factor in MyCiTi’s successes and challenges. Apartheid’s legacy of urban sprawl and the location of poor, black communities in ‘dormitory’ townships with limited land uses has shaped transit patterns in Cape Town in a way that limits seat renewal on public transport vehicles and encourages peak travel.
Transit-oriented development (TOD) approaches to city planning aim to support the financial sustainability of public transit services by ensuring that the urban form is oriented to public transit networks with the majority of households in walking distance of a station and stops. Other system elements that require consideration are the design and functioning of the fare system, which must balance cost considerations with the need to eliminate fare evasion and make commuting safe from crime. Staff also have a key role to play in the development of a quality BRT system, including dedicated units with specialist skills.