Sustainable Public Transport and Sport: a 2010 Opportunity




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Sustainable Public Transport and Sport: A 2010 Opportunity.

South Africa

Climate Change

(May 2007-2011)

GEF Grant US$ 11.197 million

Cofinance US$ 323.941 million

Project Cost US$ 335.138 million

Facts and figures


The birth of democracy in South Africa has had little effect on urban spatial dispersal. The poorest South Africans continue to live on the outskirts of cities and towns ­­- with little or no access to safe, reliable and affordable public transport - while the middle and high income groups live in affluent neighborhoods serviced by excellent urban road networks.

South Africa’s current public transport system, which is perceived as unreliable and unsafe, does not meet customer need in terms of travel times, choice or quality of service. Inadequate public transport and an excellent road infrastructure has created a powerful momentum for private car use by middle and higher-income classes but more than 63% of the working population relies on inadequate public transport or non-motorized transport. From a socio-economic perspective, this means that poor people have reduced access to employment opportunities and basic services. And, from an environmental point of view, increased car dependence exacerbates air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Unreliable and sometimes unsafe transport alternatives, such as unroadworthy buses and taxis, also have an adverse effect on tourism.

Identified barriers to the improvement of SA public transport system include: unclear institutional arrangements and fragmented planning; limited awareness of international best practices, insufficient public awareness of transport options and of the environmental consequences of motorized transport; and the lack of financial sustainability in public transport.

The government is keen to redress this situation so that a new, sustainable, ecologically friendly public transport system can be created before the 2010 FIFA

World Cup and showcased to the estimated three million local and international fans who will arrive for the event; and in order to avoid ‘quick-fix’ solutions in the form of non-public transport (hired private taxis, minibuses and buses).

Project description


The project’s environment objective is to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) from urban transportation in South African cities through the promotion of a long-term modal shift to more efficient and less polluting forms of transport, and the adoption of sustainable low-GHG transport technologies. The development objective is the promotion of a safe, reliable, efficient, co-ordinated and integrated urban passenger system, managed in an accountable way to ensure improved levels of mobility and accessibility.

The project has been designed around four main components, the first of which tackles policy issues. At present, unclear and fragmented institutional arrangements hamper urban traffic and transportation strategies. The project aims to identify and implement sustainable transportation planning and regulation policies at provincial and municipal levels.

The second component deals with alternative transport technology. South Africa’s economy is dominated by fossil fuels, with little attention given to less polluting energy options. The project will study the feasibility and long-term impact of “green” alternatives for public transport, including vehicles powered by biomass-derived fuels or natural gas.

The third project component seeks to shift private car use to less carbon-intensive modes of transport, using the World Cup as a catalyst. Currently stadiums in South Africa are designed for private car users. Most are built on the periphery of cities far from bus or train stations and are surrounded by an abundance of parking spaces. With very little incentive to change their existing mode of operation, these sporting venues perpetuate reliance on private cars.

The project will seek to change this by modifying the design of the transport system serving at least two stadiums. It plans to restrict private vehicle parking and, as an alternative, offer new public transport options for spectators.

The fourth component of the project centers around capacity and awareness-building. It plans to redress the poor awareness of sustainable transportation options in South Africa by building institutional capacity and conducting training and awareness campaigns that will inform South Africans about the costs, performance and other benefits of sustainable transport alternatives.

The project aims to produce measurable environmental benefits including an estimated 423,000 tCO2 reduction in direct GHG emissions over a ten-year lifespan, air quality improvement (measured by PM, SOx, NOx, and CO levels in the areas in which improvements have been made) and reductions in ambient noise levels. Indirect CO2 emission reductions achieved by replication of the project could be as high as 2 million tCO2 over a ten-year period. There will also be benefits to road safety.

Practical demonstrations of urban transport improvements will be linked to substantial changes in the transport services in selected venue cities for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. These will include: construction of a 94 km Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) network in Johannesburg, of 33.4km of BRT in Nelson Mandela Bay, 9 km of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes in Mbombela, and of cycle paths and walkways in Polokwane (55.5 km), Mangaung (3.8 km) and Rustenburg (10 km)

A travel demand management (TDM) project will be conducted in Cape Town to promote a diversity of sustainable travel options and initiatives, promote high vehicle occupancy, park and ride facilities and influence commuters’ choices. The project will also work with a least three major local employers in campaigns to encourage workers to use more efficient and more ecologically friendly methods of transport than they do at present.

The project will address issues such as improved and integrated design, stakeholder engagement, negotiations with existing minibus operators regarding surrender of existing operating permits, marketing and awareness creation, and developing strong links between transport and land-use planning.

To redress the lack of capacity and knowledge in transport planning an increase the theoretical and practical knowledge the project will and assist post-graduate students obtain honors degrees in transportation engineering and planning; provide study grants for master’s degrees in topics related to sustainable transport; and by paying internship allowances to post-graduates working on projects supported by the GEF programme.

It will also conduct regular, quarterly workshops in which international experts will share experiences related to sustainable transport and land-use planning and create a web-based learning structure based on available sustainable transport literature and other resources. A promotional campaign will also be conducted to increase awareness among transport practitioners in local and national government, academia and other decision-making organizations.

An important spin-off of the project is its potential to facilitate social transformation. By improving mobility, people from different population groups will have better access to employment opportunities and public services. Enhanced public transport will also improve social interaction.

The project also offers an instructive example of how sustainable transport strategies can be implemented. Given the high visibility of the World Cup across Africa, the project could also provide a best-practice model for other African countries.



The GEF project offers a long-term impact for a one-off expenditure. By using the 2010 FIFA World Cup to realize South Africa’s potential for lasting climate and socio-economic benefits, the venture provides a unique opportunity to improve the mobility of the nation.

Selected project results

  • Although the project does not formally commence operations until May 2007 it scored an early success by securing the backing of international footballers and UNDP goodwill ambassadors Zinédine Zidane and Ronaldo Luiz Nazário de Lima as supporters and advocates.


Partners, etc


The project is being implemented by UNDP and executed by the South African Department of Transport. Project stakeholders include: South African National Departments (Transport, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Foreign Affairs, Sports and Recreation South Africa, Provincial And Local Government, Minerals and Energy, Public Works, Housing, National Treasury, Science and Technology, National Intelligence Agency and the Police Service); provincial government transport in all nine South African provinces; municipal transport authorities, in particular of the nine venue cities; the Office of the Presidency, which is coordinating the FIFA 2010 World Cup; the local organising committee for the 2010 World Cup; the South African Football Association (SAFA); stadium owners and public transport service providers; transport infrastructure finance organisations; residents of all major metropolitan areas of South Africa (with particular benefit to public transport and non-motorised transport users); the private sector; as well as relevant NGOs and CBOs.

Updated: April 2, 2007


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