The inside story of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

Is it time to think about commuter cable cars?

It’s time to think out of the box

A new cable car system for commuters in Paris will be introduced in 2025.

More and more cities worldwide have already introduced cable car systems for commuters.

The V&A Waterfront has set a target of achieving 60% of all visitors arriving by public transport or non-vehicular means by 2040.  It and the city will need to think out of the box to achieve that. 

Other pages worth visiting:

The rise of the urban cable car BBC Future

Cable cars: An economically viable public transport system in #AmLat cities? World Bank

11 urban gondolas changing the way people move Curbed

Origins of Cape Town’s public transport

It was the property developers of Cape Town suburbs like Gardens, Oranjezicht, Tamboerskloof and Camps Bay who, in the 1800s, started the city’s first public transport systems. It was the only way to sell homes to people far from where they worked and did their shopping

In many cases these were just horse-drawn carriages.  (Road signs still exist prohibiting horse-drawn carriages on certain roads in the hilly city bowl suburbs.) The first car only arrived in South Africa in 1896 in Port Elizabeth and cars only became freely available early in the 20th century.

The first of the two networks established was a horsecar network, which opened in 1863. In about 1896, it was converted to electrical operation. From 1935, it was gradually replaced by trolleybuses or Trackless trams. It finally closed on 28 January 1939. 

The other network opened in 1901, and was a suburban tramway linking Burnside Road in Tamboerskloof with Camps Bay and Sea Point. It was powered by electricity, and was in operation until 1930. 

First transport networks in Cape Town

How will the V&A achieve its goals?

Before the V&A Waterfront started in 1989, at the very first negotiations with the City Council, the City wanted the Waterfront to complete the unfinished freeway in exchange for development rights. It wasn’t a sensible proposal — it didn’t quantify development rights and would have entailed a huge initial expenditure before the Waterfront had even started to be able to demonstrate its value.

V&AW appointed Hawkins Hawkins & Osborne (H2O) as its traffic engineers. They had also been appointed by the City and were responsible for the section which surrounded the Waterfront — and knew it extremely well. They were able to quantify the maximum traffic that the existing road network into the Waterfront could bear. And that could be translated into the maximum bulk of buildings which could be constructed at the Waterfront.

The Waterfront’s agreement with the city left the final bulk to be determined at a future date. It would be revised on the basis of traffic — the introduction of public transport and changes in traffic patterns and modes — and the use of municipal services.

The biggest impact on Cape Town’s user-friendliness for a long time was the introduction of the MyCiti bus service, which has provided approximately 134 million passenger trips since its launch in May 2010 until December 2021. 



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