Historical evolution of Durban’s public transport system and challenges for the post-apartheid metropolitan government.
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The history of public transport in Durban is characterised by a diverse set of socio-political forces that have shaped and styled its present form. Characterised by horse and cart driven coach modes of transport in the early colonial period, Durban’s transport systems’ transition to motorised forms has been founded on racial exclusionary measures that sought to sustain white monopoly over the economic sector at the expense of under-development of the vast majority of disenfranchised Blacks in the city. In its transport history different modes of conveyance were used and it rapidly adapted to motorised transport which placed Durban in the forefront of economic prosperity. To Durban’s credit its transport sector boasts to have made a transition from exotically human drawn rickshas, to an animal drawn tram which was later superseded by electric driven trams. Durban was the first province to have introduced the railway mode of transport which served as a foundation for its economic growth. Notwithstanding these achievements, both during colonialism and apartheid the transport sector excluded the majority of the Black populace in the city and even when it did include them strict racial separation was maintained. Under apartheid transport engineering was heightened to keep racial groups apart and Durban was the first city to respond to the notorious Group Areas Act which created racial enclaves in the form of townships for the different race groups. As consequence of such separationist human settlement patterns, the transport sector became costly, disconnected people from their homes and livelihoods, was fragmented and inefficient resulting in the emergence of transport monopolies both legal and illegal that capitalised on these deficiencies. It is against this context that this paper traces the historical evolution of Durban’s public transport system and the challenges it poses for the post-apartheid metropolitan government.