Transport for Cape Town App: Journey Planning for Africa’s First Integrated Transport Authority
The City of Cape Town is laying the foundation for an efficient and accessible future. Working with WhereIsMyTransport to develop a first-in-kind public transport mobile phone application, the City is providing a journey planning service for citizens and tourists alike, and making communication easier than ever.
Transport for Cape Town (TCT) was the first Transport Authority established in South Africa, with a mandate to make movement accessible, affordable, and inclusive in the city of Cape Town. As a city with multiple transport modes, overlapping public and privately run transport operators, and a mix of new and legacy providers, TCT (since renamed, and with an expanded remit, as the Transport and Urban Development Authority) wanted to make it easy for commuters to plan journeys on the transport options they already had, while they studied how best to improve them.
Powering their app’s journey planning service through the WhereIsMyTransport platform meant the city could offer integrated service information for the first time, enabling passengers to easily navigate across rail, Cape Town’s historic passenger bus system, the city’s new state-of-the-art Bus Rapid Transport system, and other forms of transportation.
The WhereIsMyTransport platform allows the City to provide efficient, time- and cost-effective routes for users to and from any point, all via their mobile phones. Before this, Cape Town—like many African cities—had high mobile phone usage, but lacked a service to access centralised journey planning information for the majority of the city’s modes. WhereIsMyTransport was contracted to create the first phase of the TCT mobile app, which launched in October 2014 as the first truly multi-modal transport app in Africa.
“The WhereIsMyTransport platform has enabled Transport for Cape Town to offer our citizens a transport app that rivals those found anywhere in the world. By bringing all our transport modes together in a single place, our users are able to travel freely, and we as the Authority are able to connect with them directly.” Melissa Whitehead, Commissioner, Transport For Cape Town
Users can enter their destination and choose between journey plans that combine walking, buses, trains, cycling, or even Uber. Commuters can also easily locate stations and kiosks to purchase or maintain their travel cards. The total estimated cost of any given journey is given, allowing those using public transport to make informed decisions about how to travel (including foregoing their cars, which will reduce congestion and emissions).
Within the app, commuters can engage directly with transport providers and the city, giving feedback and making their voices heard as the Authority gathers data on riders and their needs. In addition to all smartphone platforms, the app is available for simple text-based phones and provides offline directions, which is key for reaching millions of very data-conscious users or those without smartphones. The app also provides private driving directions and points of interest, which is especially valuable for Cape Town’s substantial tourism industry.
“Making public transport a frictionless process, TCT lowers the barrier to enter the system and makes public transport appealing and accessible for people of all types, especially those who usually cling to their private vehicles because of the lack of information on routes and schedules.” Devin de Vries, co-founder and CEO of WhereIsMyTransport
The TCT app makes it easier to use existing transport modes, taking journey planning services and adding value to passenger experiences to both improve the journeys of those who already commute by public transport, and generate new ridership from those previously put off by a lack of information. These opportunities are made easier by using a centralised platform with accessible data – as offered by WhereIsMyTransport.
TCT’s wider mission is to integrate, monitor, and expand public transport service in the city. WhereIsMyTransport is working with the Authority to adopt the centralised transit data platform, and citizen engagement, as well as analysis of the system for data-driven decision making.
In 2014, Cape Town became the first city in Africa to have a multi-modal transport app. Leveraging the WhereIsMyTransport platform, commuters and tourists to the city can now plan journeys incorporating all of the city’s forms of transport with just a click on their mobile phones.
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