Spending an extended period of time in a new country is often a daunting thought for many. One can expect to encounter many new experiences and challenges while you are settling in. With this in mind, we thought it would be helpful to give you a quick introduction to travelling around the city in order to at least take care of some of the unknown. Cape Town’s public transport systems are certainly colorful and there are an abundance of options for getting around the city; all depending on your destination.
A quick overview of the methods of public transportation offers the following solutions:
The Cape Town railway service is run by Metrorail and although it is the cheapest and most practical way for travelling long distances around Cape Town, trains have built up a reputation for always running late and/or getting cancelled. You shouldn’t let this discourage you from trying it out though as recently Metrorail has received a massive injection of funding to help beef up its infrastructure and get its service up to scratch. This revamp of the railway system have seen trains become more reliable and efficient. Adding to this, is the fact that you can purchase weekly as well as monthly tickets at a discounted rate, making it the most economical form of transport.
Mini Bus Taxis
Unlike the cab variety, minibus taxis are legally allowed to carry up to 14 – 15 passengers comfortably. They drive along pre-determined routes (e.g The Main Road from the city to the suburbs) and make their stops at any time you wish to get out. As it is the most informal mode of transportation, it has built up a bad reputation in some places where drivers overload their vehicles with more passengers than is allowed by law. Irrespective of this recklessness, they are still responsible for transporting millions of commuters around the country on a daily basis. There are many stations or points set out for you to catch a minibus taxi, but as long as you stand along the route you wish to travel and wave a signal to them as they approach, they will stop and let you in. It is one of the quickest ways to get from point A to point B.
There are two established forms of bus transportation available to commuters in the city: Golden Arrow Buses and the MyCiTi Buses. Golden Arrow is the largest bus operating company in the province and have routes that cover the majority of the city and its surrounding areas. To catch a Golden Arrow bus, all you need to do is find one of their yellow bus stop shelters along the route and wait under it until you see a bus heading your way. Signal them to stop and then hop on board. The MyCiTi buses were a recent addition to urban travel in Cape Town; and are easily identifiable as they are blue buses as opposed to the bright yellow Golden Arrow buses. They operate on dedicated bus lanes in the city, allowing them to miss traffic in peak travelling hours. The MyCiTi buses were introduced to encourage Cape Town residents to use public transport to get to work instead of taking their cars. They function in a similar fashion to trams and have beautiful free standing stations in the middle of major roads all around the city.
Cape Town has a host of taxi cab companies, all of whom have competitive rates and operate in exactly the same way as the ones you take back home. There aren’t any specific vehicle types associated with these taxis and most times the best way to distinguish a cab from a normal road going vehicle is to look for the yellow “taxi” sign on the roof. They operate 24 hours a day and will get you to virtually anywhere you want. Just remember that they are metered cabs so keep in mind the distances you are going to travel to avoid any costly surprises at the end of your journey.
If you don’t have Uber in your city yet, you’ve probably at least heard of the ride requesting app. If you use it already, then you’re all set — the same Uber you use at home can be used in Cape Town. Find a wifi network when you land at the airport, open the app and call a ride! Around Cape Town city, you won’t usually wait more than 10 minutes for an Uber cab, although if you go to places that are further out, like a wine farm, there likely won’t be as many cabs easily available.
Otherwise Cape Town is relatively safe as long as you remain alert at all times so feel free to walk, run, cycle, hop, skip or even jump your way around the city. There is so much to see and so many warm people to interact with, why limit yourself with the usual transport woes.
(images in this article are sourced from the internet)