Creating affordable public transport and focusing new development along transport corridors promote equality among Johannesburg’s residents while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Challenge

Johannesburg is still shaped by its apartheid past, resulting in a large share of black citizens struggling with unemployment – up to 60% of residents in some areas – or traveling long distances to work and school, forced either to walk or pay a disproportionate share of their earnings for transport. With the Corridors of Freedom, the city combats high levels of inequality by creating affordable public transport services and improving economic growth and job density.

 

The Solution

Johannesburg is undergoing a transformation to rid itself from its past as a segregated city. The city plans to build high-density housing, offices, social facilities, and retail along its revitalized transport corridors – the Corridors of Freedom – enabling residents to have shorter, more enjoyable commutes, without using private motorized transport. Implementing a low-emissions bus rapid transit (BRT) system will offer fast, safe, and affordable mobility, and increase employment opportunities for residents living far from central city areas.

With transportation responsible for 25% of the city’s total emissions, Johannesburg is a big emitter of greenhouse gases, contributing 56% of emissions in South Africa. Johannesburg therefore aims to replace old minibus taxi fleets with cleaner buses using alternative fuels. As an incentive, taxi owners handing over their vehicles – which 585 owners have done to date – are granted shares in the company operating the new BRT system. The city makeover is estimated to reduce CO2 emissions by 1.6 million tons by 2020.

 

Environmental Benefits – As the transportation sector is the second highest source of pollution in Johannesburg, the Corridors of Freedom will relieve some of this environmental burden on the city.

Social Benefits – As 67.4% of households in Johannesburg live on less than $325 per month, the introduction of affordable public transport service simply puts more money back into residents’ pockets.

Economic Benefits – Building the BRT system has already created more than 24,600 jobs, and the ongoing expansion will create an additional 18,600 job opportunities.

 

About Cities100

Presented by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), Sustainia and Realdania – Cities100 showcases leading solutions to urban climate challenges in ten sectors, ranging from solid waste management to transportation.

Available online and in print, Cities100 provides stakeholders an accessible format to explore achievable solutions for climate action in cities, and will be a useful tool for relevant groups ranging from impact investors and development organizations, to mayors and city governments.  You can access the full Cities100 2015 publication online here.