Before the match between Italy and Egypt in this year’s Confederations Cup, I had decided to make use of the park and ride service to the stadium, leaving my car parked at one of the four venues made available, before being bused over to the stadium grounds and then bused back to my car later on in the night once the game had ended and the fans were making their way out of Ellis Park.
Basically, the way it works is iTransie 2 Ellis Park provides fans with a bus and taxi shuttle service between the park and ride sites and the stadium. The shuttles, provided by the city of Johannesburg, operate for four hours, before and after the game. Shuttles leave the park and ride areas for the stadium every 15 minutes.
As soon as the matches are over, the shuttles go back into operation. iTransie 2 Ellis Park makes a promise to commuters, that most fans will be on their way within an hour of the end of the game and the shuttles continue until every car is collected from the park and ride zones.
There are four park and ride spots situated in four opposite corners of Johannesburg, with buses from each of the areas demarcated with a specific sticker colour and sign on the vehicle, to make sure that people return via the right bus to their own private vehicles.
The system, in theory at least, is very useful, as the general area around the stadium in not open for entry to private vehicles, with only official organising committee, certain media, FIFA or team specific people allowed entry into the closer confines of Ellis Park. This, added to the fact that Johannesburg is made for cars, with an underdeveloped public transport system and the culture of owning a car being widespread in the city, made the iTransie service a must and a very useful way to get to the stadium.
The ride is safe, the area where I left my car was secure, and I was able to enjoy the football without worrying about how I would find my car after the game, or whether it would be in a safe area.
Getting into the actual park and ride area was, however, a bit stressful, as the traffic had caused a long queue of cars that were taking half an hour to get into the area and park. Once that was done, though, I was had the procedure explained to me, was given a map and off I went to the stadium, where the friendly bus driver wished me a good experience at the game.
That was a great start but, unfortunately, the wait to get onto buses at the end of the game wasn't so good. And, once I had been taken to the parking venue, getting out of the place along with hundreds of other cars, was also disappointing. I am glad that the test event will allow for improvements before the World Cup next year.
I had heard of reports that other park and rides had run smoothly, with minimal time spent waiting, while other people told me that they had seen the incredible queues and had opted to walk instead. Now I enjoy a good long walk, but this defeats the purpose somewhat.
“We walked back to the park and ride, but it was not a problem, and our cars were safe,” said one person I questioned. Another person mentioned that they left the stadium one hour after the game and there was a short line of people going to his park and ride venue, so he got there quickly, but had to wait around for twenty minutes to get out with his car because of the build up of traffic. “It went well, other than the time we had to spend waiting, but the service was friendly and the fan atmosphere made time run a bit faster,” he told me.
It seems that perhaps the organization should take a good look at the way things are being done, and iron out any problems that arise, keeping the global event that is the World Cup in mind. More buses and alternate venues need to be provided, and there are plans to do just that.
Certainly, compared to my experience at the Rustenburg park and ride on my way to the South Africa – New Zealand game (where around 5000 people were queued and waiting to leave for the match half an hour before kick-off), the Johannesburg facility is better run and they have better estimates of the demand they need to deal with.
Thankfully, things will improve by next year, but for the average fan this service was useful, albeit time consuming at certain points.
Peter Pedroncelli, Goal.com