Rea Vaya trips
(Photo by Gallo Images / Daily Sun / Jan Right).
  • Pensioners and people with disabilities now qualify for free rides on Rea Vaya busses in Johannesburg, but only during off-peak times.
  • This follows a successful pilot programme first launched in 2018.
  • The free-ride programme requires applicants to register at Rea Vaya customer care centres.
  • That gets them 20 free rides per month.
  • Although the rides are free, pensioners and those with disabilities will still need to buy a Rea Vaya smartcard which costs R34.
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Pensioners over the age of 60 and people with disabilities can now travel for free on Johannesburg’s Rea Vaya bus service, but only during off-peak times, after some delays.

A six-month pilot programme involving of 600 testers was run in 2018, as part of the “Joburg Cares” initiative, and lauded as a success. It had been due to be permanently implemented in 2019, but then things stalled – amid the resignation of mayor Herman Mashaba, and subsequent budget concerns.

The programme was eventually extended in early 2020, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic – and specific concerns regarding the elderly and those with comorbidities – the campaign was put on hold again.

“Right now, we are giving it a push to make sure that pensioners and persons with disabilities do register in their numbers," said Benny Makgoga, Rea Vaya’s marketing director.

The Rea Vaya bus rapid transit (BRT) system operates over 270 busses across 58 stations in Johannesburg, carrying approximately 45,000 passengers on a daily basis. Travellers use a smartcard, which is preloaded with points converted from cash, and tap the scanner when embarking and disembarking to pay the fare.

Pensioners and persons with disabilities have previously received discounts on those fares, but can now travel for free on Rea Vaya busses – between 08:30 and 15:00, including on weekends and public holidays.

First they'll need to register at Rea Vaya’s customer care centres in Auckland Park, Soweto, and Carlton in the CBD, with either a South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) card or proof of disability in the form of a letter from a doctor or similar.

Applicants who do not already have a Rea Vaya smartcard will need to buy one for R34.

Each qualifying person gets 20 free trips per month, and can load extra credits, with cash, to ravel during peak times using the same card.

The City of Johannesburg’s transport department confirmed that a fresh batch of interns had been trained and deployed to customer care centres to assist with the processing of free-ride registrations.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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