User- producer interaction in the Rea Vaya bus rapid transit system in Johannesburg

Sello, Khumo Idah
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This study investigates the innovation dynamics of the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system using the concept of user-producer interaction in the innovation system, with a focus on user feedback to the producer of innovation. Using a constructivist world view and a qualitative approach of inquiry the purpose of this study was to investigate the extent at which user feedback is currently being utilised as a tool to enhance public sector innovation within a metropolitan city such as the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) Metropolitan Municipality. The Rea Vaya BRT System was the focus of the case study research design methodology and was adopted with objective of seeking to understand the processes adopted by CoJ in the utilisation of user feedback in public sector innovation. The study further sought to understand how a public institution such as CoJ utilises user feedback to improve innovation. Sampling and data collection procedures occurred through a spatial scale that spans from the bus depot in Dobsonville Soweto (South) towards Johannesburg town (East) which signifies a single trip on the Rea Vaya BRT system bus (C1 route). The data Collection tools included interviews with stakeholders, observation and document analysis to unpack the drivers and barriers that impede the utilisation of user feedback for public sector innovation. The sample selection for the study informants depended on access to official and relevant participants in the CoJ’s road and transport department and the Rea Vaya BRT System Bus Operating Company (BOC). User feedback is recognized and collected by the CoJ’s road and transport department according to the participants of the study. However, it is not structured and documented because there are no formal processes put in place to collect user feedback and explain how each process work. There is no secondary data on how user feedback is implemented in the Rea Vaya system. The researcher, however, put together a user feedback loop using primary data to understand user feedback processes in the Rea Vaya BRT system. It was from the user feedback loop that the possible barriers were identified to why the user feedback is not fully implemented and does not lead to improving and enabling effective public sector innovation. The possible barriers include: A lack of a user feedback mechanism report; an absence of user feedback plan; an absence of a user feedback implementation; an absence of a user feedback monitoring and evaluation system; competing interests between the politicians and administrators; user demands that the CoJ road and transport department cannot meet; lack of innovation incentives from the municipality for users; municipal bureaucracy process; lack of relationship between users and the municipality; capacity to deliver and implement user feedback; and negative attitude of municipal officials. This research has come to the understanding that for innovation to succeed in the city there is a need to change institutional frameworks that allows for the diverse collection of user feedback, that allows for the transparent dissemination of user feedback within the various stakeholders of the CoJ and the department of roads and transport and which allows for the efficient use of state resources that will assist in further unpacking and reevaluating user feedback. To conclude this research firmly believes that there should be an adoption of monitoring and evaluation tools into the user feedback processes that the city can utilise as a key measuring outcome-based results of public sector innovation in the metropolitan landscape. Another important finding is a lack of a monitoring and evaluation report that can be used to monitor how user feedback is used and how it can contribute to effective public-sector innovation.
A research report submitted to the Wits Business School in the University of the Witwatersrand, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Management in the field of Innovation Studies, Johannesburg, 2017
Sello, Khumo Idah (2017) User-producer interaction in the Rea Vaya Bus rapid transit system in Johannesburg , University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, <>