Quintessential Jozi Travel: A User's Guide

If you are travelling to Johannesburg, the city is geographically fairly centrally located, you'll find yourself in the biggest urban metropolis and largest transport hub for local, cross-border and international travel in South Africa.

But it can’t be ignored how the public transport problem becomes more serious inside the City.

As one of the solutions, a pedestrian-and-bus-only bridge, seven bus stops and new Rea Vaya routes will soon help about 10 000 commuters enter the Sandton business district.

City of Johannesburg Executive Mayor, Herman Mashaba, said from 18 September, the new R674 million Sandton transport loop would be functional.

The numbers of commuters who are travelling to Sandton from different parts of the city such as Alexandra, Soweto, Orange Farm, Ivory Park and Diesploot has increased by 3.4% yearly and it is likely to continue to increase by more than 4% per annum, the mayor recently announced.

Mashaba said 17 additional Rea Vaya stations, a public transport interchange next to Pan Africa in Alexandra and upgraded roads and sidewalks were in the pipeline.

Most living in this city need to travel into the inner city to work and have to use some form of public transport, either taxis or buses, with the rest making use of private vehicles.

As a result, you have a congested and polluted city. While the different forms of transport debate among themselves to be the form of transportation commuters prefer, here’s a list the options you have if you’re considering sacrificing private transportation:

Gautrain The Gautrain links Johannesburg, Pretoria, and OR Tambo International Airport. Built to relieve the traffic congestion in the Johannesburg–Pretoria traffic corridor offering commuters a viable alternative to road transport - trains run daily from 05:30–21:00 at intervals of 12–30 minutes. Timetables are available online or download the Gautrain app. Visit gautrain.co.za

Uber Since its launch in late 2014 the smartphone taxi app has revolutionised the local taxi industry by providing a safe, quick and reliable system that is much more competitively priced than most taxi companies in Johannesburg. Download the app on Apple Store or Google Play

Metrorail The metro railway system is the cheapest form of transport, connecting central Johannesburg to Soweto, Pretoria and most of the satellite towns along the Witwatersrand. The railways transport huge numbers of workers every day. The railway infrastructure was built during the city’s infancy and covers only the older areas in the city's south. Visit metrorail.co.za for its timetable

Minibus taxis Taxis are one of the cheapest forms of transport and are the daily transport lifeline of the bulk of the working population.

The use of the taxi system for anything other than a short drive requires an expert knowledge of the unwritten lore of hand signs indicating which taxi is travelling where, and an understanding of the various routes and how they intersect.

Minibus taxis do tend to be old and in poor condition and the rushing of fares to their destinations as quickly as possible in order to maximise returns is quite dangerous, to say the least.

Despite being a notorious menace to other road users minibus taxis are also a highly efficient transport service for many daily commuters.

But do you know the Minibus taxi hand signs?

Johannesburg artist Susan Woolf has documented what is arguably South Africa’s 12th official language in her books and exhibition, Taxi Hand Signs: Symbolic Landscapes of Public Culture. Visit Susan Woolf's site to learn more.

Shesha Tuks The fleets of Shesha Tuks and eTuk-tuks are based at Sandton Central and in Melville. While speeding around corners and guzzling up steep hills on the back of a glorified motorcycle may not suit everyone, they do make travelling between suburbs easier. They operate within a 5km radius, which can get you to places like Parkhurst, Rosebank and Illovo. Rates start at R25 for a 3km journey, although it is best to agree a price beforehand. Operates between 06:00-21:00. Visit e-tuktuk.co.za and sheshatuks.co.za

Metered taxis Unlike in other countries, our metered taxis do not cruise the streets in search of passengers, and must generally be summonsed by telephone. Many taxis do not use meters, so it’s best to arrange a price at the start of your trip. These are considerably more expensive than other forms of transport and some of the vehicles aren’t in a great condition. The following taxi companies run on meters: Orange Taxis orangecab.co.za Quick Cab +27 76 043 3617 or +27 73 447 2595 Zebra Cabs 0861 105 105 zebracabs.co.za

Rea Vaya The Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System is a fast, safe, reliable and affordable alternate mode of transport in the city, operating on designated routes. Buses run in exclusive, dedicated lanes in the centre of existing roads. They run every three minutes during peak time and every 10 minutes during off-peak times and buses can be boarded from 6am to 4pm. It currently runs from Soweto to the inner city as well as has a circular route which runs within the inner city and has feeder routes which join the other trunk routes. Visit reavaya.org.za

Metrobus Buses offer a cheaper way to get to many destinations, but do expect a longer ride to your destination. This was once the centre of the local public transport system, but competition from the private car and minibus taxis drove it into decline, and a few years ago it was close to collapse. The majority of buses depart in the early morning rush hour (06:00-09:30). Few buses run during the day and you will be extremely lucky to find a Metrobus anywhere after 18:00 or at the weekend. Fares vary between R10 and R20 depending on your destination.

Useful Metrobus routes: Number 05C/D The double-decker Number 05C/D from Gandhi Square to Rosebank and Sandton City takes a charming detour through the colourful, crowded streets of the Fashion District and Hillbrow.

What’s your most trusted public transport option?

This article first appeared on 702 : Quintessential Jozi Travel: A User's Guide

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