Using Taxis in Durban, South Africa
Football World Cup in South Africa
Football World Cup in South Africa
With the approach if the 2010 Football World Cup, all eyes will soon be on South Africa.
As thousands descend upon this amazing country, many will be asking how to get around, where to go, places to visit etc.
In this guide, we want to discuss one of the public transport systems available in South Africa - the Taxis - using Durban as an example of how to use them.
Understanding how to use the taxis in durban will really help you get around, as you will soon find that the buses are not always enough to get you where you want to go.
waiting for a taxi in South Africa
What is a Taxi in South Africa?
For a foreign traveller, a taxi (or a 'cab' in some countries) is usually a car you and your friends flag down or phone to book. When it arrives, you tell the driver your specifc destination. The driver starts the meter (to track the cost of the trip) and proceeds to drive you to the exact address you specified.
Although these particular means of public transport are available in Durban, South Africa, they are not as common, and also very expensive. What is called a taxi in South Africa is something entirely different to this.
In Durban, a tax is usually a 16 seater van or minibus. It follows a particular route, similar to a bus, but with more freedom to deviate from this route than the bus. Along the way it picks up people, usually circling around an area until it is full, then heading off to it's destination.
Are they safe to use?
In the past, Taxis have had a bad reputation for crashing or crowding too many people into the taxis. However the government has tried to bring in regulation to improve their safety, setting maximum speed limits for the taxis - which is lower than the speed limit of the highway, and also clamping down to ensure only the correct number of people are in the taxi at any one time.
Getting from A to B
The taxis tend to follow routes to and from the centre of town. So if for example you want to travel from one suburb of durban to another, you will usually have to take a taxi from your area, into the centre of town; and then pick up another taxi in town which heads to the area you are going.
If you were planning on going from the Bluff, an area south of durban to the Pavilion shopping centre, a large mall in westville, you would need to get a taxi from the bluff into the Town Centre. Then at one of the taxis stations in town get a taxi which is headed to the Pavilion.
It may seem very confusing at first, but you will find most taxi drivers usually very helpful if you ask them how to get to a particular place. They can often tell you where to get off their taxi and point you to where you can get the next taxi you need for your journey. Many of the taxis have an assistant on board who can also give you this information.
Some useful things to know about the Taxis:
1) Unlike buses, taxis do not just stop at 'bus stops' and can often be flagged down anywhere. Simply flag it down as it is passing, by extending your arm toward the street the taxi is on. They will often stop in the streets to pick people up, however if the taxi is full, it will just drive on past.
Having said this, bus stops are often a good place to sit and wait for a taxi anyhow, and they tend to stop at them a lot. Do not just assume though that because you are at a bus stop that the taxi will stop for you. You will still need to flag it down.
2) Unlike taxis in the rest of the world, durban taxis will have a set price for a journey, and do not meter your trip. If you are uncertain about how much it will cost, simply ask when you get on board. The good news is taxis are usually pretty cheap to use.
3) When you first get on, you may think you need to pull your cash out and pay, like getting on a bus. This is not necessary, get on, find a seat and settle down. You don't usually pay the driver when you get on, fares are collected later on in the journey. Usually once the taxi is full and on route to its destination people will start passing cash forward through the taxi, stating how many people they are paying for. One person toward the front tends to collect all the cash and pass it forward to the driver or his assistant.
If you are uncomfortable with this responsibility, it is a good idea not to sit on a seat which would be in the path of money being passed to the driver at the front, as if you do you may find yourself landing this job! you may be happily sitting enjoying your trip, when suddenly you feel someone tap your shoulder. As you turn and look at them, they will hand you some cash and, possibly in a hard to understand accent, state 'One' or 'two'. They will of course totally assume you know what is going on!
4) Although the taxis follow a set route, similar to a bus, they do not following a timetable like a bus! They will come randomly. The good news is that they are usually pretty regular - more regular than buses, depending upon the time of day.
5) Be aware of the time - taxis and buses do not tend to run late into the evening. Some don't go much later than 6pm! Once again: ask! When you get dropped off in an area, ask the driver if he knows what time the last taxis go past there. This way you will ensure you are able to get home later in the evening.
I hope this guide helps your trip to South Africa more enjoyable, as you understand the local public transport system... and if you are travelling to South Africa for the 2010 football worldcup may your favourite football team win!
Photo's in this guide are taken from http://www.bigfoto.com