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Public Transport Policy & Regulation (CIV5070Z)

Course convenor: Prof Roger Behrens (Department of Civil Engineering)

Motivation for the course
Considerable investment is occurring in, and is planned for, the upgrading and expansion of public transport rolling stock and infrastructure in South African cities. There is a need to produce a cohort of appropriately skilled practitioners to formulate policies that guide this investment and the associated development of integrated and productive public transport systems, and to develop frameworks through these systems can be effectively regulated. The targeted pool of potential students includes existing and prospective practitioners within the public transport sector, responsible for planning, regulating, operating and managing urban rail, bus and paratransit passenger services.

Course objectives
The objective of this course is to provide students with an overview of the theories and practices associated with the regulation of intra-city public transport systems, and with the formulation of policies that guide the development of integrated multi-modal systems. It explores contemporary institutional, system planning, funding and competition regulation issues. It exposes students to current developments in the field both locally and internationally.

Course structure and content
The course comprises four phases:

  • a pre-contact period of five weeks, involving some 30-40 hours of preparatory reading and an assignment;
  • a week of intensive contact time at UCT, comprising 40-50 hours of formal lectures and class assignments;
  • a two-hour course test (on the Monday following the contact week), intended to evaluate students’ understanding of selected aspects of the material they have been exposed to during the contact week, and
  • a post-contact period of seven weeks, involving an assignment or assignments requiring about 100 hours of work.

The material presented during the contact period is structured around the following broadly sequential themes or topics:

  • Legislative and planning frameworks: institutional, legislative, financing and planning frameworks for integrated public transport infrastructure provision and service operation.
  • Public transport policy: policy debates on subsidisation and competition regulation; mode alternatives analysis; international case studies of public transport system reform.
  • Paratransit reform: operator consolidation and transition; fleet renewal; service upgrade; integration with scheduled services.
  • Public transport system regulation and competition: industry structures; approaches to regulation and competition; licensing and contracting.
  • Quality of service: quality-of-service measurement; passenger satisfaction measurement; passenger information systems and way-finding.

Formal presentations on these topics by both Programme staff and invited external specialists are interspersed with work on a group assignment, the product of which is presented and discussed on the last day of the course.

Readings for the preparatory assignment are issued about five weeks prior to the commencement of the contact period. Additional readings may be issued during the contact week or subsequently through the Vula online course worksite, together with the brief for the major post-contact phase assignment.

Contact week attendance
Students are expected to attend the contact week on a full-time basis, which will require them to be resident in Cape Town for its duration given that the daily timetable during this period will generally occupy the hours from 08h00 to 17h00. Attendance for the entire contact period is a requirement, and students who are absent for more than 20% of the contact period duration will not be allowed to complete the course.

Learning outcomes
Students who have completed the course successfully should:

  • understand important policy challenges and debates facing the reform, regulation and subsidisation of public transport systems in contemporary South African cities;
  • understand the operating characteristics of alternative public transport modes, and be able to assess the appropriateness of different modes to different urban contexts, demand conditions and operating environments
  • understand the challenges facing paratransit reform, and the alternative approaches to upgrading services and including these services in integrated public transport systems
  • understand alternative competition regulation systems and there relative strengths and weaknesses
  • be able to measure quality-of-service and passenger satisfaction

The aggregate mark for this course is compiled as follows:

minor assignment based on preparatory reading 15%
group contact week assignment 10%
major post-contact phase assignment 50%
course test 25%

Students who do not obtain an aggregate mark of at least 50% for their preparatory assignment, course test and post-contact phase assignment will be deemed to have failed the course.