Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) Acting Group CEO Hisham Emeran has welcomed the huge demand for long-distance bus and train services as the agency gears up for holiday travel at various intermodal stations.
Emeran said the high volume of passengers is an indication that holiday travel is gradually returning to pre-pandemic levels.
“This is a huge relief for the business given the devastating blow we were dealt with during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is also an indication of the importance of intermodal passenger travel.
“As a business, we aspire for our stations to be convenient integrated one-stop facilities for travel, shopping, while providing for fast-food restaurants for people on the go. We also hope that our customers enjoy the new improvements at our stations and the retail experience,” he said.
During this season, between 200 000 and 300 000 people move through Park Station per day, making it one of the biggest and busiest stations on the continent.
“As a result, our intermodal stations, Park Station and Pretoria Station have ramped up their operational plans and improved terminal capacity to meet the pressure of the high volume of passengers especially in the last days leading-up to Christmas,” PRASA said on Thursday.
In keeping up with the demands for long-distance bus travel, Park Station has created a new terminus for five new bus operators, bringing the total number of bus operators at the station to 24, while access points are being rehabilitated at Pretoria Station to alleviate traffic congestion.
“The increase in passengers also provides economic opportunities for informal traders and porters. Park Station remains a vital space to sustain the livelihoods and survival of the informal economy.
“Thus, plans have been put in place to manage and support porters and informal traders while ensuring a safe environment for passengers and patrons,” PRASA said.
Park Station has welcomed more retailers for the convenience of last minute shopping for travellers and the general public.
“Patrons and travellers can also look forward to the festive look and feel of the station in celebration of Christmas and for their enjoyment. Visitors can also create meaningful Christmas memories as photo booths have been introduced at various parts of Park Station,” PRASA said.
Other plans include the maintenance and repairs of facilities, and the installation of eight brand new energy-efficient, high-tech, high-spec escalators at Park Station to ensure that travellers and patrons have a pleasant experience.
Safety and security
The safety and security of travellers and patrons remains a key priority for PRASA.
“Our security plans have been bolstered with an adjusted security plan and more resources to meet the additional travellers and their safety.
“Security announcements are being made to alert travellers to be vigilant. Lastly, our visible patrols are more frequent throughout the day and night,” PRASA Acting Head of Security Alexio Papadopulo said.
The creation of the additional terminus for the new bus operators allow for a safe, controlled and orderly space for passengers and the operators.
Long-distance passenger services
The agency has also seen a huge demand for its long-distance passenger services.
On Friday, Shosholoza Meyl will be offering its last service for the year for the Musina and Queenstown, Eastern Cape routes.
Both train services are fully booked, but remain open for bookings in the new year.
Meanwhile, with over 100 destinations throughout South Africa, Autopax bus operators, Translux and City to City, will be running services at full capacity and remain fully booked.
“PRASA would like to advise travellers to plan ahead their journeys, prepare for long queues, and make sure they arrive promptly at the stations for a smoother journey. This week will see a huge surge of people heading for various holiday destinations.
“The Agency is pleased to remain at the forefront of an integrated transport system that responds to the needs of the economy and diverse demands of the public including offering convenient multimodal transport options to reach their final destinations,” PRASA said.