COMMENT

Travel in cities and towns (I)

Charles Simkins, in the first of six briefs, gives a statistical overview of urban transport

Travel In Cities And Towns I - Statistical Overview: Evidence From The 2016 General Household Survey

7 March 2018

Introduction

Travel in South Africa’s metropolitan and urban areas has been shaped by two related factors: a history of racial segregation and relatively low population densities in former white group areas. Inefficient cities have resulted in inefficient patterns of transport. Two developments make current conditions different from those of forty years ago: the end of legally compelled segregation and the rise of the minibus taxi business. Yet de facto residential segregation remains pervasive, cities have made little of the substantial investment necessary to improve public transport, and congestion on often deteriorating roads has risen as the number of cars on them has increased.

This brief and the next seek to present key information from two sources: the 2016 General Household Survey and the 2013 National Household Travel Survey. The second, specialist survey has more detail, but information in it covers only weekdays (Monday to Friday), and its complicated structure has resulted in information which, in some respects, is seriously incomplete. Nonetheless, the two sources together yield useful base line information on the ‘modal split’ (the distribution of travel by mode of transport), the length of travelling times, the cost of travel and the influence of household income on travel patterns.

Data

The General Household Survey asked the following questions:

At the personal level

For work and education separately:

- Means of transport[1].

- Time taken to travel one way[2].

At the household level

For minibus/sedan taxis, buses and trained separately and for the preceding week:

- Trips taken.

- Money paid.

- Distance from home to transport.

The GHS data are based on the place of residence of households and they do not permit a distinction between travel within the relevant metro and urban area and travel outside it.

The modal split and time taken to work and educational institution

Travel to work

Table 1 sets out the modal split for trips to work and their average duration in minutes. Nearly 10% of working people in metros work at home and have no need to travel. They would have to be excluded if travellers only were to be considered.

Table 1 - Modal split and average time to work, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Metro

Urban

 

 

 

Per cent

Average time

Per cent

Average time

Office is at home

9,7%

 

9,6%

 

Walking

10,2%

24

25,6%

24

Bicycle/motorcycle

0,9%

32

1,2%

30

Minibus taxi/sedan taxi/bakkie

28,2%

37

19,7%

27

Bus

4,2%

45

2,6%

35

Train

5,6%

47

0,5%

51

Lift club by a group of people sharing a private vehicle

2,5%

35

2,8%

31

Own car/other private vehicle/company vehicle

38,7%

31

38,0%

24

Total

100,0%

35

100,0%

25

In both metro and urban areas, the use of own car or other private vehicle or a company vehicle accounts for nearly 40% of trips to work. Second comes minibus taxis, sedan taxis and bakkies in metros, and walking in urban areas. Third comes walking in metros, and minibus taxis, sedan taxis and bakkies in urban areas. The use of buses, trains, bicycles and motorcycles and lift clubs are less often used, collectively accounting for 13% of trips to work in metro areas and 7% in urban areas.

The average times of travel are generally shorter in urban areas than in the metros, not surprisingly given their smaller extent. Travel by bus and train is, on average, longer than travel by minibus taxi, lift club and own car. Average walking time is low, suggesting that most people walk because their work is nearby.

Travel to educational institution

Table 2 sets out the modal split for trips to educational institutions and their average duration in minutes.

Table 2 - Modal split and average time to educational institution, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Metro

Urban

 

 

 

Per cent

Average time

Per cent

Average time

Walking

48,1%

29

65,6%

17

Bicycle/motorcycle

0,7%

20

0,6%

20

Minibus taxi/sedan taxi/bakkie taxi

9,7%

41

8,1%

28

Bus

3,8%

37

3,1%

29

Train

1,7%

38

0,1%

49

Minibus/bus provided by institution/government and not paid for

2,7%

31

2,3%

23

Vehicle hired by a group of parents

13,7%

41

9,2%

23

Own car or other private vehicle

19,7%

31

11,0%

15

Total

100,0%

33

100,0%

19

Walking far outweighs any other mode of travel in both metro and urban areas. Then comes travel by car or other private vehicle. Vehicles hired by a group of parents comes third and taxis fourth. Travel by bicycle or motor cycle, bus and train accounts for 6% of trips in metro areas and 4% in urban areas. Free travel by bus or minibus provided by educational institutions account for about one in forty trips.

Figure 1 displays the distribution of travel times to work and educational institution in metro and urban areas combined.

Expenditure on taxis, buses and trains

The dominance of the minibus taxi over bus and train can also be seen from household expenditure patterns. Table 3 sets out annual household expenditure by mode and weekly expenditure by households using the three modes.

Table 3 - Expenditure on minibus taxis, buses and trains, 2016

 

 

 

Minibus taxis

Bus

Train

Annual expenditure

 

 

 

R millions

 

 

 

Metro

28 511

8 759

2879

Urban

9 819

4 033

297

Rural

9 365

1 316

418

Total

47 695

14 108

3 594

Average household expenditure per week

 

 

 

Rand

 

 

 

Metro

151

140

85

Urban

186

131

78

In round terms, turnover in the minibus taxi business in 2016 was R 48 billion. Buses accounted for a further R 14 billion and trains R 3.5 billion.

These figures can be checked against household expenditure on transport from the Living Conditions Survey 2014/15. Table 4 sets out the LCS estimates for South Africa as a whole

Table 4 - Household expenditure on transport, 2014/15

 

 

 

R million

Share

Car

214 078

76,1%

Motorcycles/bicycles

3 203

1,1%

Rail

2 214

0,8%

Bus and taxi

55 189

19,6%

Air, water and other

6 482

2,3%

Total

281 166

100,0%

There is reasonable correspondence between Tables 3 and 4, given that the dates are 18 months apart, though the estimates of expenditure on trains in the GHS is about 50% higher than in the LCS. Expenditure on cars and motor cycles constitutes 77% of all transport expenditure.

Table 5 sets out the extent of ownership of cars and access to them without ownership.

Table 5 - Ownership and access to cars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Owns

Has access

Neither

Unspecified

Total

 

 

 

 

 

 

Urban

33,5%

6,8%

58,7%

1,0%

100,0%

Rural

12,3%

7,9%

79,3%

0,5%

100,0%

Household income and modal split

Table 6 sets out the percentage of households reporting at least one trip by mode in the week preceding the survey.

Table 6 - Percentages of households reporting at least one trip by mode, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Metro

Urban

 

 

 

 

Household income

Taxi

Bus

Train

Taxi

Bus

Train

Rand per month

 

 

 

 

 

 

Less than 1 500

38,3%

6,3%

7,9%

28,9%

2,7%

1,9%

1 501 to 3 500

50,8%

7,8%

10,3%

35,7%

4,3%

1,5%

3 501 to 7 500

59,9%

9,9%

14,0%

46,5%

4,6%

1,8%

7 501 to 12 500

55,2%

11,7%

10,4%

41,1%

5,4%

2,1%

More than 12 500

28,7%

8,2%

6,6%

20,4%

3,5%

1,0%

All

43,2%

8,5%

9,4%

33,5%

4,0%

1,6%

The income category which uses taxis most intensively is the R 3 501 – R 7 500 band in both metros and urban areas. The income category which uses buses most intensively is the R 7 501 – R1 2 500 band in both metro and urban areas. Train travel is most used by the R 3 501 – 7 500 band in metro areas and the R 7 501 – R 12 500 band in urban areas. Taxis and trains are least extensively used by households receiving more the R 12 500 per annum. Buses, however, are more extensively used in the top income band than in the bottom band.

Percentage of household income spent on minibus taxis, buses and trains

From the 2015 GHS, it is possible to calculate the percentage of household income spent on minibus taxis, buses and trains for households which:

- have monthly incomes of between R 500 and R 19 999; and

- have taken at least one minibus taxi, bus or train trip in the seven days before the survey.

Figure 2 displays the relationships for metro and urban areas. The percentage spent for each level of income is greater in the metros than in urban areas. The consequence is that the percentage drops below 10% at a monthly household income of R 5 500 in urban areas and R 9 500 in metro areas.

Bear in mind that total transport costs have not been captured in Figure 2.

Distance from home to nearest pick up point for taxis, buses and trains

Table 7 sets out the distance from home to the nearest pick up point for minibus taxis, buses and trains.

Table 7 - Distance from home to nearest pick-up point, 2016

 

Kilometres

0

1

2

3-4

5 or more

Total

 

Percentage of households

 

 

 

 

 

Minibus taxi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Metro

89,4%

6,4%

2,0%

0,4%

1,8%

100,0%

Urban

88,7%

9,0%

0,9%

0,4%

1,0%

100,0%

Bus

 

 

 

 

 

 

Metro

81,2%

11,0%

5,0%

1,1%

1,6%

100,0%

Urban

87,5%

9,7%

2,4%

0,0%

0,4%

100,0%

Train

 

 

 

 

 

 

Metro

50,7%

12,2%

11,7%

12,3%

13,1%

100,0%

Urban

43,1%

20,0%

12,5%

10,1%

14,3%

100,0%

One reason for the greater popularity of minibus taxis is that the distances to pick up points are smaller than for buses. Trains are the least accessible and most likely to require an auxiliary vehicle trip to reach.

How does the percentage of household expenditure on transport in South Africa compare with other regions of the world?

Table 8 sets out comparative data on the percentage of household expenditure spent on transport.

Table 8 - Percentage of household expenditure spent on transport

 

 

 

Region

Per cent

Date

Source

 

 

 

 

South Asia

5

2010

World Bank

East Asia and Pacific

7

2010

World Bank

Middle East and North Africa

7

2010

World Bank

United States

9

2016

OECD

Australia

10

2015

OECD

Eastern Europe and Central Asia

11

2010

World Bank

Euro area

12

2014

OECD

United Kingdom

14

2016

OECD

Canada

15

2016

OECD

South Africa

16

2014/15

LCS

Latin America and the Caribbean

17

2010

World Bank

World Bank, Global Consumption Data Base
OECD, National Accounts of OECD countries
Statistics South Africa, Living Conditions Survey

 

 

 

In South Africa, 16.0% of household expenditure in urban formal areas is spent on transport, compared with 18.7% in urban informal areas.

Conclusion

This brief has outlined the modal split of trips to work and educational institutions and the average time taken. It has also presented information on household expenditure on minibus taxis, buses and trains, showing the dominance of the minibus taxi industry among the three modes. Finally, it has summarized the distance from home to minibus taxi, bus and train pick up points.

The information here will be supplemented in the next brief which is based on the National Household Travel Survey of 2013.

By Charles Simkins, Head of Research, HSF, 7 March 2018

[1] If more than one mode is used, the mode covering the longest distance is recorded

[2] The time is based on all the usual modes of transport, going one way