Innovative Policy 2018 on Accessibility

Accessible public transport strategies for 13 major municipalities

The South Africa Department of Transport has developed a national strategy to guide cities in providing accessible public transport systems. The strategy includes new Universal Design standards for the whole travel chain and assists each city with implementing them, while also tracking progress with implementation. Implementation is being tested in 13 major municipalities and as of mid-2017 four cities have been implementing the standards, and another six will implement them within the next two years.

About the policy at a glance
Laws and regulations involved:The Implementation Strategy to Guide the Provision of Accessible Public Transport Systems in South Africa
Responsible Body:Department of Transport
of Implementation
South Africa


  • Four cities have implemented the strategy as of 2017.
  • Six further cities have completed accessibility plans and will begin implementation in 2018–2019.


Persons with disabilities have many problems accessing information about public transport and can encounter great difficulty when trying to use existing infrastructure and being treated with dignity. Due to a history of colonial and apartheid spatial planning, social divisions are even worse in South Africa than in many other countries.


The South Africa Department of Transport has developed a strategy to help guide, support, and monitor municipalities in the implementation of accessible public transport systems. The strategy covers both access to information and to the services themselves for persons with physical, psychosocial, intellectual, neurological and/or sensory disabilities. The strategy was developed in three phases, with the first covering tA man on the wheelchair inspecting the accessible features of a bus. he period from 2007 to the 2010 (in anticipation of the FIFA World Cup); the second covering the period up to 2014; and the third up to 2020 and beyond.

The strategy lists minimum standards to be reached by each deadline, for example, all existing and new entry service provides to have undertaken accessibility training by 2014. It also details the responsibilities of each stakeholder in implementing the strategy, including planning authorities, public transport operators, and vehicle manufacturers. The implementation of accessibility measures in each municipality is monitored centrally by the Department of Transport through regular meetings, readiness inspections, and the gathering of data on implementation of the “White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” – This White Paper was released in 2015 to domesticate the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and is a cross-government call for action for the socio-economic inclusion of persons with disabilities.

As of mid-2017 four of the 13 municipalities have implemented new public transport systems, meaning that these new systems already operate in line with the policy. Cape Town and Johannesburg have 291 and 277 accessible buses, respectively, and are making gradual improvements to public transport infrastructure. There is also a new rail system and the existing system is being upgraded. Six further cities are already implementing the strategy and are preparing to be ready for launch in 2018–2019.


The Department of Transport continues to work with the three remaining cities that are currently in the planning phase of the strategy. Once all 13 municipalities have implemented the strategy, over half the residents of South Africa will have access to accessible public transport, enabling equal treatment and providing easier access to jobs and local amenities.
The strategy has been used as a best practice example within the country, highlighting inequalities in existing standards outside the transport sector and assisting in other areas where legislation has not been implemented properly.
Each municipality is responsible for funding its own projects through the “Equitable Share” programme, which provides proportional funding from the central government. Additional funding has been provided through a national government grant scheme for the 13 cities that aims to reverse the race and class separations caused by apartheid policies, for example, through improving public transport as a catalyst to reduce geographical separations.

People with disabilities and without using the subway with accessible features.


Download factsheet as accessible pdf


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