network Sunday in its largest city Johannesburg
ahead of next year's Football World Cup,
seeking to shore up its image as a safe destination.
The gleaming red and blue Bus Rapid
Transit (BRT) stations finished in steel and glass
already dot the city and the red and blue buses
are a far cry from the dilapidated mini-buses
that are known for deadly accidents.
"I am looking forward to the system at least
it is safe.
When you take a taxi (mini bus) you never know
if you will reach your destination alive,"
said Teresa Chalatsi from Johannesburg's
famed Soweto township after her first ride.
"This is much faster, cheaper and reliable,
I will be using it from now on."
The BRT service was launched in downtown
Johannesburg despite fierce opposition
from private mini-bus operators,
who had threatened violent protests.
"I was scared at first to come here because
were told by ...
there will be violence but I saw other people
come so I joined.
This is going to save me a lot of money
because I spend more than half of my salary
on transport," Maria Sebegoe a maid, said.
A bus ride from Soweto to central Johannesburg
costs only three rand (.38 dollars/.27 euros)
in the rapid bus system,
a third lower than the rate in private minibuses.
The coaches can carry up to 90 people,
stopping at stations half a kilometre apart.
Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele said
the BRT was "a victory for the transport industry,
the people of South Africa and
the 2010 FIFA World Cup".
The launch for months to ease concerns
of mini-bus operators, who are known
for bloody turf wars and who had threatened
to stage protests to bring Johannesburg
to a grinding halt.
South Africa has one of the world's highest
crime rates and is struggling to clean up its
record before hosting the Football World Cup next year
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