Five thousand three hundred and seventy-five. What is it? It is the revolutions per minute at which a Ducati 899's engine breaks the 100 decibel sound barrier? It is the total number by which the female workforce in Malta grew between 2013 and 2014? It is the mass, in kilograms, of the Zond 5, a Soviet spacecraft from 1968 that became the first human-made object to circumnavigate the moon and make it back to earth? It is also, depressingly, the average number of vehicles that turn off from the R44 in Techno Park each working day.
Roughly a quarter of those vehicles (1370) enter the park during the morning peak hour (07:00-08:00). Almost the same amount (1275) leave again during the evening peak hour (16:00-17:00). Those are the official numbers obtained from iCE Group, a leading civil engineering consultancy with offices in Techno Park. Most people who drive in and out of the Park on a daily basis, however, don't need to know the statistics to realize that the traffic situation is, euphemistically speaking, not ideal.
A second entry road from the Spier side would go some distance towards easing the daily gridlock in the Park. Additional parking space is also a pressing concern for many commuters. The Techno Park management body (TechstelSRA) have engaged Stellenbosch Municipality in a number of talks over the past few years to address these issues. It appears, however, that permanent solutions to the traffic problem may still be some way off from becoming realities. In the meantime, we would like to suggest – and indeed, strongly urge you to consider putting into action – a few shorter-term solutions that may help to alleviate the plight of desperate commuters in Techno Park.
- Consider joining a lift club
The benefits of joining a lift club to work are considerable. The City of Cape Town has an extremely useful brochure that lists some of these benefits, including: 1) saving money on fuel and maintenance; 2) reducing your impact on the environment and 3) keeping your stress levels in check. The brochure lists a number of useful tips for ensuring your safety while lift-clubbing, and provides a few helpful pointers around legal considerations (vehicle owners are reminded to make sure, for example, that their insurance requirements are in order).
It may feel like an undue burden or hassle to arrange a lift club, but imagine only having to drive to work one week each month. For the other three weeks, you can spend an extra hour each day reading, or napping, or socializing – or even catching up on work e-mails, if you prefer. To assist with the arrangement of lift clubs, the Techno Park website has created a forum where you can discuss the matter (look for the thread labelled "Lift Clubs"). There is also a post concerning the matter on the Techno Park Facebook page – please feel free to comment and organize your lift club from there.
We strongly urge employers in Techno Park to consider implementing flexible working hours. This will help ease congestion during peak traffic times. Some companies have already started to do so with positive effect. One such company is Entersekt, a pioneering digital authentication and mobile security company with offices in Techno Park.
Schalk Nolte, CEO of Entersekt, explains how they began to notice that traffic in Techno Park clogs up during certain well-defined periods of the day (from 16:30 in the afternoon for about ten minutes and then again at 17:00 for another fifteen minutes; as well as between 07:30 and 08:15 in the morning). They decided to create a core working day from 10:00-15:00 – times during which everyone has to be at the office. Outside those times, employees are given licence to manage what remains of the working day according to their own schedule. In addition, the hours of the regular working day has been changed to run from 08:30-17:30, missing out on the peak traffic times mentioned above. According to Nolte, these measures have been a resounding success: "No one complains anymore!" he says.
- Public Transport
If you are coming from Kayamandi, and you take a minibus taxi, you'll get to Techno Park in about 10-20 minutes. This ride will set you back R13. The taxi you'll be taking is actually the Stellenbosch-Somerset West taxi, though, so you'll get dropped off at the R44 turn-off, from where you'll have to make your way on foot to your place of work. Here is the path you'll have to walk:
Another option is to take the Jamestown taxi. From the Stellenbosch taxi rank to the R44 turn-off, this ride costs R9; from the Somerset West taxi rank the price is R13. The Jamestown taxi is (according to reports) willing to drop you off directly at your place of work for a little bit extra – instead of R9 (from Stellenbosch), you can expect to pay between R12-R15. According to an anonymous commuter, this taxi is "quite fine".
We fully appreciate that the traffic situation in Techno Park is rather dire, and we urge your patience while we work behind the scenes to come up with more durable solutions to these problems. Please do consider making use of the suggestions above – join a lift club, take a taxi or, if you are an employer, implement flexible working hours – so that we can work together to make the daily commute a more free-flowing experience for everyone.