Transport is believed to be one of the most important human activities worldwide and an indispensable component of the economy. It therefore, provides an integral function in the forming of spatial relations between locations (Rodrigue et al., 2006). Du Plessis (2013:40) claims that in an effort to create livable cities with economic opportunities and sufficient access to public transport, bold decisions must be taken to ensure that developments of the future are livable and sustainable. There exists a great danger in an attempt to merely meet the required numbers set for infrastructure, but missing the opportunity of creating a sustainable development. Never has this opportunity been as vital as it is now in South Africa and in Africa. Mankind is progressively moving beyond the concept of ‘green buildings’ to that of creating ‘green precincts’. This research paper endeavours to address sustainability in a much wider context that is, ensuring optimal performance of an entire precinct. More questions are being asked such as:
‘’What about the urban space in-between?’ to obtain ways to protect the urban space and ultimately not harm the planet (Du Plessis, 2013:40)’’.
Most people are dependent on public transport in order to gain access to the various areas of daily routine as well as linking them efficiently to a growing number of jobs. This underlines the fact that transportation infrastructure and effective public transportation systems remain a key factor in the development and economic growth of a city (African Development Economic Consultants, 2012:2).
According to Kristersson (2012:16), modal interchanges can be defined as hubs where transport routes and different modes of transport are linked together. These areas are usually characterised by their central location for ease of access and surrounding development.
The government has set ambitious targets for the total transformation of public transportation systems within 12 major cities in South Africa alone. These transportation systems are currently at various stages of implementation, and will be rolled out during the next decade or so depending on funding. This poses the questions:
To what degree does the planning and implementation of public transport infrastructure in South Africa take integrative transport systems into consideration and to what extent are modal interchanges located and planned optimally in order to create sustainable and efficient urban areas?
Transport planners often tend to prioritise certain aspects that are less focused on integrating transport with the surrounding areas and land-uses that promote a more sustainable environment. Examples of aspects prioritized, that do not support integrative transport systems include the reduction of traffic congestion, travel-time reduction and flow optimisation of transport systems. According to Jenks et al. (1996:2) creating sustainable development has become a major concern within a very short time frame and this necessitates the input from various disciplines in order to achieve this.
New public transport systems are implemented in many cities throughout the world including South Africa. These new infrastructure systems have a prime objective to facilitate and improve urban transportation (Rodrigue et al., 2006). The transport systems and transport facilities also present an ideal opportunity to impact optimally on the surrounding urban areas and have the potential to act as a catalyst for commercial and property development if approached correctly (Hoogma and Kemp, 2002). However, the transport systems that are currently developed in South Africa are approached with a too narrow focus, and unique development opportunities are therefore lost.
The related literature
Transport is a key element in forming the ecological footprint and quality of life and ultimately enabling a sustainable future for cities (Gärling and Steh, 2007:293). Sustainability is more than a good idea and should rather be seen as the idea of our age. It should provide guidance for policies. The Environmental Goods and Services Forum of South Africa also emphasizes that sustainable transport and mobility are fundamental for the country’s successful development (Du Plooy, 2009:7).
Bannister (2008:73) states that Transport Planners ought to change their paradigm if the sustainable mobility agenda is to become more prominent. He further explains that in order to obtain sustainable mobility the link between transport and land-use must be strengthened and be a priority in transport planning. Creating sustainable cities are largely dependent on public transport accessible corridors and public transport accessible interchanges Bannister (2008:73).Bannister (2008:75) highlights the following 4 aspects for creating a more sustainable city:
1. Transport policy measures modal shift: Transport policy measures can reduce the amount of car use and rather encourage cycling and walking and also the development of new transport hierarchy. This can be done through making it easier to use public transport,
2. Land-use policy measures: These aspects address the physical separation of activities and the means by which distance can be reduced. This can be achieved through creating more dense and concentrated developments, public transport orientated development and mixed-use development,
3. Reducing the need to travel: This deals with the fact that a trip is no longer necessary as it is replaced by a non-travel activity or it is substituted through technology,
4. Technological innovation efficiency increase: Technology impacts on the efficiency of public transport directly.
For the purpose of this article, ergonomics is the process of identifying human actions and needs and providing the subsequent physical forms of engineered or built systems (Wolf, 2003:1). The designing of the physical environment comprises of human safety, comfort, and satisfaction in order to reach optimal performance (Wolf, 2003:1).
By creating an environment for humans, two related system outcomes become evident: Firstly, performance, which consists of productivity; efficiency; effectiveness; quality; innovativeness; flexibility; safety and security; reliability and sustainability. Secondly, well-being, consists of health and safety; satisfaction; pleasure; learning and personal development (Frey and Stutzer, 2010). Performance and well-being are interrelated and therefore influence one another (Dul et al., 2012:379). According to Martin et al. (2013:365), sustainability is an issue that is recognised globally, but the role of ergonomics in the sustainability design is not understood and not sufficiently considered. Dorf (2005:83-1), argues that in order to provide the efficient movement of people and goods, transportation facilities and systems are required. Rodrigue et al. (2006:178), argue that the spatiality of transport and the various levels at which it operates is the most significant discipline relating to the shaping of human activities.
Dorf (2005:85-9) further describes public transportation as ground passenger transportation modes that are available to the public. Conventional public transportation has set routes and fixed schedules and is usually bus and rail transit services that mainly focus to provide mobility to people without private cars. Unconventional public transport modes range from taxis, carpools, rented cars and subscription services. Maclaren (2003:2) indicates that public transport links industrial, commercial and residential areas and makes the transfer of goods, people and information possible. According to African Development Economic Consultants (2012:3), transportation is also a key component in urban land markets, urban regeneration and economic upliftment.
Schiefelbusch and Dienel (2009:7) believe that the function of transport has changed over the years. Public transport in the nineteenth and early twentieth century was seen as the backbone for providing citizens and goods with a means of movement; however today, its function is to provide users with an alternative option of using cars. Public transport also contributes to environmental, social and energy objectives and is therefore considered a better alternative to the use of private automobile.
Makeka (2009:75) elaborates by describing modern-day public transport as a means of allowing access to various public spaces and supporting the flow of commerce. Public spaces are therefore the key determinant in social engagement, discourse, identity and without transport supporting it, it would not exist. As a result, public transport provides access and mobility to a large number of people and therefore supports the functions of public space.
The present urban environment is portrayed by different property rights from the individualised private residence sector to state-owned public spaces (Maclaren, 2003:67). Land use is defined as the physical land itself, which constitutes the geographical characteristics and the vegetation that occupies the surface, the building that is constructed on this land as well as the certain activities that take place on it (Premius et al., 2007). According to Maclaren (2003:81), zoning regulations are planning procedures used by authorities to regulate property development and reduce unwanted spillover effects from incompatible land use into desired land-use, thereby promoting new property development.
Due to each city having different policies and ways of thinking, cities have taken on different forms. Cheng and Lin (2010), elaborate on two types of urban development. In the first type, population growth is the cause, and development is the effect. Population growth is therefore followed by development. The investment in this type of development will therefore not fail easily and will reduce the risk of developing land and lessen the financial strain on local government. However, the problems relating to insufficient infrastructure increase in traffic congestion and deterioration in residential quality. While the second type, developments occur where development is established first and are followed by population growth. The main benefits from this type of development are that local government has the opportunity to lead the direction of the implementation of new development, infrastructure can be implemented to attract private sector investors and traffic congestion can be taken into consideration during the planning procedures (Cheng and Lin, 2010 in Brink, 2013).
The history of apartheid in South Africa also plays a key role in the current formation of urban migration patterns. The apartheid city was created through manipulating settlement patterns in order to segregate people and to create an environment of spatially structured poverty (Makeka, 2009:78). Jenks et al. (1996:171), on the other hand argue that our cities take also a product of the development of transport technologies, which were dominant at different stages of their development.
Du Plessis (2013:41) declares that in order to create efficient livable cities, it is essential that the integration of diverse functions such as residential and commercial property with transportation take place. Dorf (2005:83-1) argued that transportation infrastructure always forms part of a much bigger project development process and therefore certain key characteristics of a project need to be considered during the planning of each transport corridor.
Doherty (2004:6) believes that accessibility is crucial in the development of a city and plays a major role in the process of forming land use. Hansen (1959:74) supports this view and argues that the greater the accessibility to various activities in a community, the greater the chance for growth in the community and defines accessibility as the potential for opportunities to interact. Vanderschuren (2012:34) elaborates that land use and transportation are interlinked and changes in land use will most probably lead to the change in user trip making patterns vice versa. According to Litman (2009:2), transportation also influences the surrounding land use through the upgrading of land use of the land required to accommodate the necessary transport facilities and also indirectly by enhancing accessibility to land use which stimulates development.
Makeka (2009:75) declares that cities, which lack the integration of public transport and public space, appear unorganised and unbalanced. According to Williams (2009:29) in order to obtain sustainability planners need to find common ground, not only to satisfy transport needs, but also between transport and the surrounding activities. According to Makeka (2009:77) he elaborates that in South Africa, a large percentage of commuters rely on the use of private vehicles and in the large metropolitan cities, the modal split is usually around 50% private to 50% public transport going into the Central Business District (CBD). The private commuters are usually single occupancy vehicles, which increase congestion and inefficient fuel utilisation and ultimately release high levels of carbon emissions. Makeka (2009:77) states that the transport sector in South Africa contributes 25% of the total carbon emissions. Maclaren (2003:72) believes that planners do not take into consideration the public interests and do not strive to serve common values and therefore mutual beneficial results for everyone are not achieved. Infrastructure determines the nature and 15 performances of human settlements as people are dependent on infrastructure in order to build their existence. There are however, several challenges that surface. The full extents of the interrelationship between transport, public space and optimal urban form have yet to be fully understood and implemented.
In South Africa, the effect of poor planning pertaining to the integration of transport and land use is apparent in the existing low population densities in cities, causing users to travel long distances to reach their destinations (Vanderschuren, 2012:34). Makeka (2009:77) also indicate that there exists an immense problem between public space and transport where large amounts of capital required for the implementation of transport infrastructure is mismanaged. The creation of pedestrian orientated settlements has also become unattractive. The idea of transport efficiency has long been understood as increasing the speed of vehicle movement, and this has resulted in the loss of efficiency of satisfying human needs and human environments (Makeka, 2009:77). Hickey and Townsend (2009:2) also agree with this idea and claim that many authorities lack the vision of integrating transport with urban settlement, and many uncoordinated programs and agencies exist which do not facilitate a multi-disciplinary approach.
Transport systems are therefore necessary to ensure reduced costs of social and economic interactions and to allow goods and services to be exchanged in a more productive manner. Ineffective systems that are implemented on poor infrastructure platforms will mean that cities are not able to provide a productive environment for firms and provide points of access to the poor where they are able to obtain an income (South African Cities Network, 2009:5). Makeka (2009:75) states that commerce and social interaction have been non-existing due to a lack of integrative transport strategies, which have also resulted in the loss of communities and small scale economic integration in South Africa. South Africa’s public space is worn out as a result of improper public transport and erected barriers for security reasons. Public transport enables public space to be linked to each other and also contributes to better security. Development of a city is not just concerned with the users of transport facilities but what is more important is the effect it will have in the zone of influence which is likely to engender decay for kilometers away from the facility itself. Dorf (2005:86-13), states that transit also has difficulty attracting market share, which is among other reasons that land use patterns are not planned to incorporate transit use. Molai and Vanderschuren (2003:3), explain that the land use component can include a range of land uses such as residential, commercial and industrial.
Political control in terms of service plans, provision and funding have always been the case as cities are mostly owners of transport companies and regulate the services offered through contracting policies (Schiefelbusch and Dienel 2009:6). Maclaren (2003:71) explains that the main role of the state is therefore to obtain consensus, and work to affect social stability and maintain a basic balance of power between various interests groups through accommodating its actions towards these groups. In the function of urban development, many interests exist that seek to be heard by those with planning power such as environmentalists, transportation lobbies, developers, construction firms and professional institutions such as engineers and surveyors. This challenges the state, as conflicting values and interests of the various groups arise and the state has to fulfill the role as an arbitrator to ensure that no gains mastery and dominates state policy. Maclaren (2003:72) however proclaims that although many believe that the conflicting views of the various interest groups can be accommodated, the idea in reality is not possible and forces the state to prioritise financial grants for the various interest groups. Not only does the South African government prioritise certain interest groups above others but certain controlling decisions are also enforced which overrules planners’ endeavour to integrate transport with land use and ultimately to create sustainable communities.
Ndamase (2013:4) emphasises that the malfunctioning of the Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS) in Nelson Mandela Bay alone is due to the fact that authorities wish to remain in control of the managing of the project and also hold on to the R298 million capital budgets from national funding. This serves as an example to illustrate the political barriers that restrict the optimal implementation of transport facilities. Thompson and Roux (2009:1) support this view and state that financial constraints tend to overrule integrated and holistically designed settlements. Figure 1 highlights the main areas of government expenditure in South Africa for the year 2013.
National Treasury Republic of South Africa, 2013
From Figure 1, it is clear that the transport expenditure issued by the government is substantially low compared to expenditure for other interest groups. The limited funds available for transport investment restrict the desired implementation of transport infrastructure in several cities.
From this study, it is plausible to argue that the state has the final decision as to how and what transport systems including implementation will be carried out. It seems as if it is not possible for government to accommodate all interest groups equally and ultimately government has to prioritise these needs accordingly. This in turn will influence the extent to which planned integrative transport systems are implemented. Even though government policies in South Africa promote sustainable human settlements, examples are few and far between (Thompson and Roux, 2009:1). This is a result of the continued old approach to township planning, infrastructure, housing design, the absence of cross-sector integration and collaboration. Planners do not take into consideration long-term environmental, social and economic sustainability and the large spatial areas formed due to apartheid constructs. The main reason for planners not considering this during the design stage is due to segmented professional education, where engineers, architects, planners, social scientists and environmentalists are trained in isolation and therefore only few are able to see settlements holistically as integrated, resource efficient, social and economic systems embedded in natural ecosystems (Thompson and Roux, 2009:1). Abbott (2012:257) explains further that empiricism has long been influencing the way of thought and limiting the access to intellectual space.
The doctrine of empiricism believes that knowledge can only be obtained through past experiences. Abbott (2012:257) also argues that although poor urban development exists, Africa has a great opportunity to create its own development paradigms that are much more applicable to the twenty-first century. Ironically, this opportunity is not held back by lack of skills, lack of political will, or shortage in finance but rather a way of thinking with reference to urban infrastructure. Molai and Vanderschuren (2003:1) state that the high demand for transport as well as the difficulty of providing transport as a result of urban sprawl (which has created increasing spatial developed cities throughout South Africa) increases the difficulty of integration. Large amounts of houses are situated at the periphery of cities creating difficulty for transport infrastructure planning. Gärling and Steh (2007:297), declare that another major difficulty arises due to the fact that authorities previously structured cities in such a way that it facilitates the use of private cars and authorities have focused on constructing larger roads and parking areas resulting in poor quality bus services operating in highly congested cities. Makeka (2009:75) states the following:
“The challenge of a nuanced approach to city management is moving beyond the broad-brushed debates about density, nodes and corridors that tend to dominate public discourse on spatial planning. A great city requires leadership that is bold enough to respond to the characteristics of each particular situation, and not standardise to the lowest common denominator in order to simplify the planning process.”
Jacobson and Forsyth (2008:73) point out that several of the best-loved places created are the outflow of decades or even centuries of development and redevelopment. What may seem as a development that appears fast is mostly the product of years of planning. According to Jacobson and Forsyth (2008:52) during the past few decades in the United States, Transit Orientated Development (TOD) has been implemented as a popular and influential planning concept. TOD is an approach to create pedestrianised, diverse neighbourhoods in the centre of cities and suburban location by integrating public transport investments and land use patterns. TOD projects have been implemented in a range of cities across the United States. Policy makers, urban planners, and transit officials commonly use TOD principles.
TOD focuses on creating a land use pattern that accommodates transportation choice, which is increasingly important in the complex lifestyles and business practices of today, and also supports the idea of creating sustainable mobility trends through less dependence on non-motorised transport (Curtis et al., 2009:3). According to Cervero (2009:23), TOD is a practical model to integrate transportation and land use in several developed cities of the world. When different modes of public transport are integrated, they provide the user with a variety of options. Abbott (2012:258) supports this statement, claims that the United States has been extremely successful in implementing an infrastructure development model (IDM), and is a country, which is relevant to African urban conditions and therefore provides good solutions.
In response to the poor implementation of transport infrastructure systems and the lack of integration of them, the South African Cities Network project has been established (South African Cities Network, 2009:5). The main focus of this project is to provide South African cities with information to guide the development of cities relating specifically to public transport into a safer, more effective, efficient and sustainable environment. It aims to advance the knowledge of operating complexities with regard to public transport infrastructure and to guide cities in restructuring inefficient human settlements through Transit Orientated Development (TOD) and public space interventions (South African Cities Network, 2009:5).
A transport network is made up of a combination of modal interchanges and links where modal interchanges can be described as physical places such as transport terminals or stations, which functions as a connection between the links of a network being roads, highways and railway lines (Booz and Company, 2012:31). According to Dorf (2005:83-6) modal interchanges or transfer facilities are locations where commuters change from one mode of transport to another.
Rodrigue et al. (2006:126) defines modal interchanges or transport terminals as points of interchange within the same modal system which enables a continuous movement of passengers. They are mostly central and transitional locations within the movement of passengers. According to OECD (2012:16) interchanges facilitate the transfer between different transport routes and also link various modes of transport together. Lambas and Monzon (2010:323) argue that interchanges therefore are key elements for improving mobility in metropolitan cities as an increase in multi-stage trips are taking place in cities. Interchanges make transfers short, easy, comfortable and make the use of public transport more attractive to the public. There is however a lot that needs to go into the planning and construction in order to create good quality interchanges.
Urban planning forms a key element in creating sustainable, well-functioning cities, transport systems and facilities are highly dependent on good urban planning practices. Urban planning is a diverse practice creating a framework for shaping places, managing collective concerns of shared spaces, urban environments, seeks to capture and respond to the various ways of experiencing, encountering and valuing the urban environment (Maclaren, 2003:83). Maclaren (2003:70) further explains that a city, which is orderly and spatially integrated, fulfills the functional necessities of urban life and this can be produced through physical planning according to logically derived laws of urban development. Urban planning became necessary in order to control and co-ordinate the disorganised development patterns that existed. It is crucial in order to obtain the best use of land for the well-being of the public and to create an environment, which is aesthetically pleasing, healthy, safe and convenient with regard to economic, social, aesthetic and physical factors (Botha, 2013).
The relationship between modal interchanges and land value property developers, when asked what the most important element regarding the success of property development, would undoubtedly argue: location, location and location. This is because all property is exclusive in their location and different characteristics are apparent. For example their location to the city’s prime retailing or office districts and transportation infrastructure (Maclaren, 2003:53). According to African Development Economic Consultants (2012:4), the upgrading of infrastructure systems have the potential to impact land use surrounding transport arteries and the development opportunities tend to increase in such areas. Makeka (2009:77) strongly supports this view and indicate that the value of land is determined by what it can be used for as well as the accessibility.
Tian (2006:349) states however, that transportation infrastructure has a clearer impact on the economy in developing countries than the developed countries. The main reason for this is because transport systems are of lower quality in developing countries compared to developed countries and therefore the impact of transport facilities on property values are not the same globally. Development does not just take place as a simple reflex to the increase in demand but it also takes into account the profit-seeking criteria, which exist in this industry (Maclaren, 2003:11). Development will only happen if all the criteria of engagement of the various elements are met. Separate terms of engagement are determined through negotiating in markets such as the conditions for a developer to develop on a landowner’s land, the cost and conditions of money borrowed to developers, and between developers and contractors in determining development costs. If no terms of engagement can be concluded, development will most probably not occur (Maclaren, 2003:11).
Transit corridors connect various transit stations and usually have different development patterns and market strengths from high-density residential, office, and retail development in city centres to sub-urban neighbourhoods that often consist of more spread out single-use development (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2013:3). Suzuki et al. (2013:147), argue that although cities in developing counties have looked towards the integration of transit and land use as a more sustainable method, there are still many barriers that need to be overcome for its potential to be fully utilised. These barriers include: Short term goals for improving mobility dominating longer term goals of creating sustainable urban development; fragmented institutional frameworks creating difficulties for regional collaboration at city-level, cross sector integration; and regulatory barriers that limit real estate to take full advantage of the implementation of the transport investment.
The design of transit stations is often aimed at reducing construction costs and therefore the location of these stations are placed in the midpoint between thorough fares and the acquisition of expensive land takings and interference are kept to a minimum (Suzuki et al., 2013:158). This results in development opportunities surrounding transit terminals being marginalised as authorities overlook them in order to reduce costs. Martin et al. (2013:367) also support this view and emphasise the importance of spatial planning, strategy effectiveness and the proper working of the city’s authority as well as the implementation of effective rules and regulations to support development.
United States Environmental Protection Agency (2013:3) argues that the infrastructure required surrounding transit stations depends on the context within which the development will take place as well as other factors such as the capacity of already existing facilities and the future development that potentially will take place. In more densely populated urban areas, future development requires improving the infrastructure capacity but this can however be costly. Infrastructure facilities must be already in place for new development to take place. In the case of weak real estate markets, it will also attract developers and investors, as less capital is required to obtain the necessary infrastructure. The problem however is that many authorities are shifting these responsibilities to developers (USEPA, 2013:3). U.S Environmental Protection Agency (2010:4) explains that another problem exists due to the existence of sprawling land use patterns, which increase costs for providing services, as it is less efficient to provide these services to dispersed developments. Authorities are therefore hesitant to provide services, which are key requirements for property development.
According to Maclaren (2003:86) ‘free riding’ is another associated problem, which leads to longer delays in the implementation of the required infrastructure for development. For development to take place, the necessary infrastructure is required such as trunk drainage, an additional road or a bridge to obtain access to a site. Many developers tend to wait for an original developer to implement such infrastructure so as to ‘free ride’ on their investment. Where development profitability is certain, developers tend to wait for other developers to carry pioneering risks and ultimately make it a less risky investment for themselves. Suzuki et al. (2013:152) argue that urban planners should focus on improving service provision so that greater densities surrounding transit stations can be accommodated. This can be ensured by addressing problems such as institutional and regulatory deficiencies, which include low levels of autonomy, accountability, inadequate cost recovery, and a lack of professional management. Maclaren (2003:86) explains that problems arising due to ‘free riding’ should be addressed through the state taking responsibility and supplying the necessary infrastructure through general taxation or special levies. U.S Environmental Protection Agency (2010:4) states that smart growth can also be incorporated into planner’s strategy to ensure compact development, which means fewer resources and fewer costs incurred to build new roads and other necessary infrastructure. Maclaren (2003:90) claims that where the risk for developers are too great ‘pump-priming’ public spending to obtain the necessary infrastructure or fiscal inducements to subsidise developments should be implemented as techniques to promote development.
It is plausible to say that infrastructure is necessary for development to take place and if it is lacking, development will most probably not occur. Developers before committing to any opportunity will first have to obtain the necessary capital. The capital required therefore makes this the most important component in the development process. From the above, it is plausible to argue that careful planning is essential when deciding where to locate a modal interchange. It is also evident that planners often endeavour to obtain the best location for interchanges from a transport perspective, but fail to incorporate other potential aspects that can be gained from such facilities. The capital required to implement an optimal interchange can however create stumble blocks.