Cape Town – The City of Cape Town will introduce flexi-hours and an option for working from home for some employees to help reduce the city’s infamous rush-hour gridlock. The city also wants bosses in private companies to consider doing the same.

Something had to give, said Brett Herron, the city’s mayoral committee member for transport, noting that residents spent up to three hours a day in peak-hour traffic because of the traditional 08:00 to 17:00 working hours.

The city, which was voted the most congested in the latest TomTom congestion survey released in February, put out feelers for suggestions during last October’s Transport Month on how to get cars off the road, and was pleased with the feedback.

Suggestions received for the City’s draft Travel Demand Management Strategy included carpooling, working flexi-hours, working from home, working from satellite offices, or using public transport, such as MyCiti buses. The buses already transport around 68 000 people around the city per day.

Earlier this year, Herron said that, in spite of about 450km of cycling lanes around the city, only 1% of trips made around Cape Town were by bicycle.

Other suggestions were to compress a five-day working week into four days, and a cash-back incentive for employees at private companies who do not use their company-subsidised parking because they do not travel to work by car.

Improving productivity, lifestyles

In the next few months the city will experiment with letting some of its employees work flexi-hours, work from satellite offices closer to home or even work from home, with certain conditions, Herron said.

And it wants the private sector to join in.

“Apart from alleviating congestion, spending less time on the roads will improve employees’ productivity and lifestyles significantly,” said Herron.

“I often hear motorists who drive alone in their cars complaining about bumper-to-bumper traffic. It is ironic because those among us who are travelling in single occupancy cars are the very cause of the problem that we are complaining about.”

Herron said that even though the city would be spending R750m over the next five years to address congestion, experience had shown that new roads’ capacity was taken up within months, hence the need to make changes.