When moving to South Africa from overseas, expats often struggle to adjust to the public transport system. Most expats come into the country forewarned; knowing that buying a car is inevitable. Local public transportation is often tricky to navigate but can be useful for those who are willing to take the plunge into the unknown.
Below you will find a summary of the available transportation options:
When you are settling into your new home and jumping through the last few bureaucratic hoops, a rental car may be the smartest option. Purchasing your first car can take some time and a rental car is probably the best substitute.
Global Rental: www.globalrental.co.za
Pace Car Rental: www.pacecarrental.co.za
The Integrated Rapid Transit in Cape Town, despite its large network of routes, is well-known for being tardy. If you need to be somewhere on time, this might not be the best option. It is, of course, safe enough in a pinch but is not an ideal long term commuting solution.
Johannesburg’s Metrorail is not too different from the IRT. The Gautrain, however, as the foreign cousin of the high-speed metro, is a great option for people travelling between Sandton and O.R. Tambo Airport on a daily basis.
Taxis in South Africa do not roam the streets quite as heavily as they do in other countries. It is impossible to hail a cab as it passes by on a busy road. The common practice here is to call ahead and book your preferred time-slot. Not all of these cabs are metered, which often necessitates asking for a quote in advance. Expect to pay in the region of R50 to R100 for a short trip. Metered taxicabs will charge roughly R9 to R13 per kilometer, which can be pricey when travelling long distance.
SACAB (London Taxi): www.sacab.co.za
Delta Cab: www.deltacab.co.za
Cabs for Women: www.cabsforwomen.co.za
Stereotypically, minibuses are reserved for people of colour. Often speeding down restricted lanes, in an advanced stage of disrepair, these taxis are a no-go for expats who are used to something a little more organized. Never expect one of these vehicles to depart once you have climbed in – the driver will probably wait in one spot until the minibus has filled up a little more. Minibuses do not have official routes (just ask the driver where he is going), nor do they have official timetables. Locals seem to have a knack for knowing which taxi is going where and at what time, which makes it an affordable and efficient service on their terms.
Johannesburg’s Metrobus services patches of the area with semi-reliable routes. Most expats live in the Northern Suburbs, which unfortunately does not seem to have direct access to many of Metrobus’ 80 official routes. Cape Town’s MyCiTi rapid bus routes have recently undergone a marked improvement. Dedicated bus lanes run throughout the city, and most buses arrive on time.
When travelling long distance, there are a few bus companies worth looking into.
SA Roadlink: www.saroadlink.co.za