South Africa’s first ‘green’ transport facility

Submitted by: Nadia Shah, Thursday, October 9, 2014

<p><em>Wallacedene Taxi Rank is the first ‘green’ public transport facility in the country. (Image Source: City of Cape Town)</em></p>

Wallacedene Taxi Rank is the first ‘green’ public transport facility in the country. (Image Source: City of Cape Town)

Wallacedene taxi rank in Cape Town is the first ‘green’ public transport facility in the country, designed to achieve energy independence by operating off the electricity grid and to meet most of its basic water needs on site. “The Wallacedene taxi rank sets the benchmark for future public transport facilities in the country, showcasing the City’s commitment to conservation and innovation. The City of Cape Town is extremely proud to be at the forefront of combining intelligent architectural design and technology in our effort to improve service delivery to our residents,” saidt Mayoral Committee Member: Transport for Cape Town, Councillor Brett Herron. 

Renewable energy

Wallacedene taxi rank is powered by seventy-eight 250W rooftop solar photovoltaic panels, angled at optimum orientation to the sun. The solar panels span an area of 135,86 m2, with a maximum daily output potential of 130kWh which is able to meet the energy needs of the entire facility. To ensure that its energy supply is not interrupted at night or on cloudy days, the rank has been equipped with twenty-four large batteries for the storage of 72kWh of reserve solar energy. 

 

Batteries store reserve energy for use during the night and on cloudy days. (Image Source: City of Cape Town)

Water conservation

Typically vehicles at taxi ranks are washed  using potable water.  As this represents an inefficient use of potable water, Wallacedene taxi rank meets its water demands by harvesting rainwater on its rooftop and recycling up to 70% of the water used through an underground filtration and reclamation system. “One of the most exciting features of this facility is the manner in which we are using the rank’s considerable roof area for the harvesting of rainwater. The rainwater is stored in an underground tank system with a storage capacity of up to 20,000 litres and is equipped with the necessary infrastructure to pump this water to the washing bays,” said Councillor Herron.

Socio-economic benefits

Approximately five thousand commuters make use of the Wallacedene taxi rank on a daily basis. According to Herron it was designed to be a people’s place, this is achieved by the pedestrian entry points and walkways, loading bays, sheltered waiting areas with comfortable benches, toilet facilities, recycling bins and security stations. “This project is a confirmation of our commitment to improving our residents’ access to public transport, especially those who live far away from opportunities and amenities, spending about a third of their income to get to work and back,” said Councillor Herron.

The design also made provision for the taxi associations which have been allocated an office and a meeting room. The feedback from taxi drivers has been very positive. “Some taxi drivers claim it is the best taxi rank in the Western Cape and say that it has raised their service standards and built their confidence,” said Councillor Herron.

The Wallacedene taxi rank was also designed to accommodate informal traders with six trading bays and two kiosks  just outside the facility for local entrepreneurs.

Financial Feasibility

The Wallacedene taxi rank cost a total of R25 million to build. The City of Cape Town anticipates recovering this investment since technology installed will reduce the facility’s operational costs, effectively paying for itself overtime. It is expected that the monthly savings in energy costs will cover the capital cost of the solar installation over a period of six to ten years and that the water conservation measures installed will yield a 40% savings in monthly water bills. 

Investing in green infrastructure

“The development of similar taxi ranks across the city definitely forms part of our plans. Transport is one of the biggest contributors to our carbon emissions problem. It makes sense that we try and off-set the impact of transport services by ‘greening’ where we can. This project also contributes to the City’s initiative to provide sustainable infrastructure in the City of Cape Town. Thus, the City uses its powers to create an environment that serves the needs of the people who live in it, while at the same time preserving it for future generations,” explains Councillor Herron.

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