Public transport in Johannesburg

Two men leave the bus at the station

With population and visitor numbers constantly rising, the challenge currently facing the world’s major cities is to develop effective public transport systems. Johannesburg has tackled this problem in collaboration with GIZ IS.

Title: Bus Rapid Transit System Johannesburg (BRT)
Commissioned by: Johannesburg City Council
Financier: KfW Entwicklungsbank
Country: South Africa
Overall term: April 2008 to March 2011
Project volume: EUR 2 million

As in most cities around the world, the population of Johannesburg is rising steadily. Although there have been investments on a massive scale, the road infrastructure has been unable to keep pace with this growth. These transport problems were felt most keenly by the poorer sections of the population living on the periphery. They were dependent on the many privately operated minibus taxis, many of which were old, unroadworthy and unreliable.

By 2013 an effective and affordable local public transport system with a network length of 122 km is to go into operation in Johannesburg to help relieve the traffic situation and reduce air pollution.

GIZ IS advised the City of Johannesburg from 2008 to 2011 on planning and building an effec-tive and affordable public Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT). They also developed a financing model and network details and provided training to those responsible for the project and future staff.


  • Capacity development and training measures for the introduction and subsequent operation of the BRT system,
  • project planning of the BRT system (routes, number, size and location of bus stations),
  • support with drafting tender documents and contracts with bus and station operators,
  • advising on measuring and maximising the positive environmental impacts,
  • advising on all finance issues (financing, fares, fees for bus operators).


Results achieved so far

  • In August 2009 the first service route between Soweto and the city centre was launched,
  • with 40 buses serving 27 stops along a 25.5 km stretch. By May 2010 several feeder routes had been built and the number of buses increased to 143,
  • enabling 2010 Football World Cup fans to reach the two venues comfortably, quickly and in safety.
  • In total, 70,000 passengers currently use the service every day. Since journey costs have been reduced by 50 per cent, the new Bus Rapid Transit system benefits poorer people in particular.
  • 1120 permanent jobs have been created.
  • BRT is the City of Johannesburg’s biggest ever investment towards significantly reducing CO2 emissions.
  • This state-of-the-art bus system is the only one of its kind on the African continent and is currently attracting interest from specialist visitors and journalists from all over the world.


Daniel Passon