Every minute in a typical South African work day a commuter complains about poor services. That’s an alarming statistic for two reasons. One: our public transport networks don’t cater to the majority of our population. Two: I just made it up and you were so quick to believe me. With our sprawling suburbs, relatively low cost fuel (when compared internationally) and penchant for big bakkies and 4x4s, this is car country.
It will surprise you then, that this journalist much prefers being at the mercy of public transit to choking up in daily traffic – mostly because the train system actually works quite well in Cape Town. To be honest, I’m more on time than I am late and the added fitness bonus of multimodal transport is quite refreshing.
Yes our taxis are pretty lawless, but the Gautrain is a peach of upmarket travelling sweetness that many people take for granted. MyCiti and Rea Vaya also aren’t too far behind the international curve when it comes to moving people around.
A big contributor to the ill feelings towards the transport system is this illusion that we should be on par with London or Copenhagen. Here’s some depressing news then: if you live outside of a city centre, you’re gonna have a bad time no matter where in the world you live.
That said, here’s a few resources to keep you abreast of your preferred transit option. They dovetail quite nicely with the planned rail upgrades outlined in the May 2015 issue of Popular Mechanics and almost make it feel as if we’re living in a first world country.
This fantastic service is supposed to cover schedule and live announcements for Metrorail, MyCiti and Rea Vaya but specialises in Metrorail for now. The company has ambitions of mapping the transit routes in South Africa and have so far got Bellville sorted, which is a start. You can email them to plot your city’s public transport paths. Dedicated apps for Windows Phone and Android, but the SSD code and mobi site are good offerings too. A must for rail commuters who want live timetables and expected arrival times. you can also register for SMS updates, which is good.
With BlackBerry, Android, iOS and Windows Phone apps available, the Gautrain cements its place as our premier method of public transport. While you would think that R150 is a bit steep for a trip from OR Tambo to Hatfield in Pretoria, consider the chain of inconveniences to get someone to fetch you and your plane arrives late. The news ticker is quite accurate with notifications of every stage of the bus strikes being served to our smartphone. great app for a great service. (Don’t worry Durbs, when GO!Durban finally gets, er… going, we’ll update this with all the KZN goodness.)
Obviously Gauging can’t be alone with a world class transit option, so Cape Town’s MyCiti bus streams in with a solid mobi site and SSD code service for route planning and live timetables. there’s also a killer unofficial Android app and Google Now will give you MyCiti updates via location services with creepy accuracy. Great for city dwellers and residents of the West Coast Economic Corridor (Tableview and Atlantis), but not so great for people of the northern suburbs and southern suburbs residents on public owned land. Also the good people of Tableview have a very good bicycle route that this journalist is really jealous of.