Dismal ride on Metrorail

Tremaine van Aardt

I HAVE been a loyal supporter for the past six years of the hard benches, smelly toilets and abrupt stops which characterise the Port Elizabeth Metrorail.

Metrorail is responsible for transporting up to two million passengers daily in Gauteng, the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

However, I have begun to doubt the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa)-owned transport service’s capabilities to deliver on its theme of “Getting South Africa to work”.

I remember using the same excuse – the train got stuck – during my three years of tertiary studies right through to my time at The Herald.

I fail to understand why I’ve had to use the same excuse for six years – yet the problem has not been resolved.

Metrorail spokeswoman Mimi Katsio said the carrier was not entirely to blame as Metrorail was operating the commuter service on Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) infrastructure and networks, which meant the tracks, power and signals the service relied on were owned and operated by TFR.

Just another excuse I’m sure many other Metrorail passengers have heard when they have called the “customer care line”.

Which brings me to my concerns about “customer care”: the passengers on the trains are customers and should be treated as such.

Boarding the train on an icy winter morning, the last thing you need is the cold stares of Metrorail employees as they check your ticket. Would it kill them to smile? Or maybe they are so unhappy because they have nothing to protect themselves or passengers with should an incident occur.

I noticed there is a separate policing division specifically deployed on the train. So where are they? I have only seen police on the train at most three times a week. But they don’t patrol. No wonder people don’t feel safe.

And I am not the only passenger who shares these concerns about our daily commute. The Herald has received two letters lately raising issues of tardiness and safety on Metrorail.

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