Perception on public transportation infrastructure: a proposed transport interchange for the Pietermaritzburg railway station precinct.
Muslim, Mohammed Iqbal.
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In a world where travel is rapidly increasing, safer and efficient means of commuting become more pertinent. Citizens constantly endeavour to move about from place to place, be it from home to work or other destinations in a hassle free manner. In South Africa today, urbanisation necessitates the need for public transportation infrastructure development that appeals to a wider demographic, as the study reveals the disconnect between the middle to high income population, in public transportation use. Upon research, remnants of apartheid, along with concerns of safety were found to be critical in hampering the development of the public transport industry, thereby lending a negative perception of public transport infrastructure as a whole. The most popular form of transportation in the city of Pietermaritzburg, are the mini-bus taxis, followed by buses, and private motor vehicles. The large numbers of freight trucks occupying the same roads as motorists daily, particularly between the city of Durban and Pietermaritzburg, also impacts negatively on commuter safety. Furthermore, the recent taxi violence and overhaul of private cars on the roads, both of which cause major traffic congestion, air pollution and numerous accidents, necessitates the need to reconsider the significance of the train supported by more formalised modes, as alternative means of transportation. In addition, the interchangeability of various modes of public transport offers the freedom and choice required to transpose perceptions on public transportation. It is noteworthy that architecture in isolation, cannot address all the issues, but requires a holistic approach in remodelling the current transport system. However, a transport hub that transcends its conventional utilitarian nature by the introduction of a social entity can help to bridge the gap between demographics, as well as the fragmented parts of the city. Urban principles regarding the decline of cities and sustainable transport development approaches were explored in discovering the relationship of transport and the environment, economy and society. Ultimately, the transport hub, by becoming a destination in itself may be seen as a catalytic instrument for the revitalisation of the city, and the transport industry, thereby enhancing the public’s perception towards public transportation and the urban environment. “Transport interchanges have become the agora of the newly democratic state, the place of maximum commercial exchange and social interaction” (Deckler; 2006: 59)