Data AcquisitionReading Corner

Geographical modelling of transit deserts in Cape Town

Press Release 19 Jan - 12:50 SAST

Geographical modelling of transit deserts in Cape Town

Press Release 19 Jan - 12:50 SAST

by Marianne Vanderschuren, Robert Cameron, Alexandra Newlands and Herrie Schalekamp from the University of Cape Town

In this open access article (available here), the authors apply work on transit deserts in cities in the global north to Cape Town, in South Africa, with the aim to assess the methodological transferability to the global south, and generating case study results.

The World Bank calculated South Africa’s 2018 Gini Coefficient to be 0.63, which made it the world’s most unequal country. Such inequality is perpetuated by land-use patterns still influenced by the apartheid past. The resulting urban form necessitates long travel distances, often relying on fragmented transit modes, each with their own geographical and temporal constraints.

In the Cape Town case, the study first analyses transit deserts based on formal public transport supply (bus rapid transit, traditional bus and train), identifying that ten out of 18 traffic analysis zones were classified as transit gaps (some unserved demand), while three of these zones qualified as transit deserts (significant undersupply). Like its US counterparts, excess supply is found near Cape Town’s city centre.

In Cape Town, the transit gaps/deserts are partly filled by unscheduled minibus-taxis. When this informal public transport service is added, the transit deserts disappear; however, half of the transport analysis zones still qualify as having transit gaps. The authors therefore conclude that informal public transit in Cape Town reduces the transit gap, but does not eliminate it.

The study finds that the methodology is transferable, and presents a useful case study to show how it can be transferred. Professionals working in public transport, transport planning, city planning, and mobility would find this useful and interesting.

Reference: Vanderschuren,M.; Cameron, R.; Newlands, A.; Schalekamp, H. Geographical Modelling of Transit Deserts in Cape Town. Sustainability 2021, 13, 997. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020997