Can the use of Bus Rapid Transit lead to a healthier lifestyle in urban South Africa? The SUN Study

Bartels, Clare and Kolbe-Alexander, Tracy and Behrens, Roger and Hendricks, Sharief and Lambert, Estelle V. (2016) Can the use of Bus Rapid Transit lead to a healthier lifestyle in urban South Africa? The SUN Study. Journal of Transport and Health , 3 (2). pp. 200-210. ISSN 2214-1405


Background: There is a growing body of evidence that transport-related physical activity can positively contribute to population levels of physical activity, however limited data is available from Africa. Within South Africa, strategies and policies to support greater non-motorised and public transport use have been identified as a national policy priority, leading in part to the development of the MyCiTi Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Cape Town. The aims of this study were to evaluate the difference in active travel choices between users and non-users of the MyCiTi services, and to determine the contribution of active travel towards total physical activity.

Methods: Intercept interviews were conducted with BRT passengers using a self-reported questionnaire (n=1 204). A similar questionnaire was distributed to to non-BRT users (n=558) employed at workplaces along the BRT feeder routes. In the final analysis, 1 321 surveys were included.

Results: Cost savings and safety from crime were the main reasons reported for using MyCiTi services, whereas the convenience of car travel and short travelling distances were cited as the main reasons for not using these services in those who worked and lived near the BRT. The main trip purpose amongst BRT-users was commuting to work (75%). Nearly all (92.6%) BRT-users walked as part of their journey, whereas 71% of non-users used a private vehicle to work and other travel. BRT-users accumulated significantly more time in active travel per week than non-users (ß=79.0, 95% CI=59.6 to 98.3; P=0.000), as well as significantly more total physical activity time per week (ß=113.7, 95% CI=34.4-193.1; P=0.03), after adjusting for confounding variables. In addition, 36% of BRT-users achieved the recommended guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, with active travel alone and were more likely to achieve the guidelines than non-users (OR=2.4, 95% CI=1.9 to 3.0; P<0.001).

Conclusion: This study highlights that the BRT can be promoted as a means to increase population-levels of physical activity in South Africa, as part of an inter-sectoral strategy to promote health and prevent non-communicable diseases.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to Published version, in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Health and Wellbeing
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2017 23:27
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2017 07:01
Uncontrolled Keywords: active travel, physical activity, MVPA, BRT, South Africa
Fields of Research : 12 Built Environment and Design > 1205 Urban and Regional Planning > 120506 Transport Planning
11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science > 110699 Human Movement and Sports Science not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 92 Health > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920401 Behaviour and Health
D Environment > 96 Environment > 9699 Other Environment > 969999 Environment not elsewhere classified
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1016/j.jth.2016.04.003

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