Trip from Pretoria to Joburg in less than an hour is a lifestyle change that does away with hassle of driving.
What a pleasure. Pretoria to Joburg in an hour without having to brave the traffic. Metrorail’s Business Express is the answer to hundreds of commuters’ prayers.
When the service was launched last month, and Metrorail promised a safe, friendly commute from Pretoria to Joburg in an hour, there were many sceptics.
Although the train is scheduled to leave Pretoria station at 6.15am, I and the commuters were unfazed when it left five minutes late. After all, what’s five minutes compared to crawling along the freeway?
After stopping in Centurion and again in Kempton Park, the train reached Joburg’s Park station at 7.23am. And instead of arriving at the office agitated after hunching over a steering wheel, the commuters were relaxed and a few even had a spring in their step.
Mathews Sikwakwa of Akasia said: “The train is awesome and the hospitality is great. Plus I save on petrol, meaning I have extra cash to spend on other things.
“The train is a great idea, very convenient and comfortable. It’s about time Metrorail listened to the commuters. They have really pulled out all the stops,” he said.
Looking comfortable reading the complimentary newspaper and sipping some hot chocolate, which is also part of the service, Sikwakwa said he used to fill up his car twice a week to drive to work in Braamfontein.
He isn’t alone in his praise, as the 530-seat train was nearly full and commuters say the numbers are growing.
Each coach has a host or hostess who caters for the commuters’ needs, and there is a security guard on board.
Nick van der Merwe of Centurion was surfing the Net on his laptop using the free Internet portal.
“The train is excellent, definitely value for money. I read about it in the newspaper and decided to try it.
“Now I have two hours a day free to myself that I used to spend stuck in traffic either going home or to work. It’s a lifestyle change.
“The service is reasonably smooth and reliable. Sometimes the train is late, but for a good reason, and it’s only a few minutes once in a while. So it’s not that bad,” he said.
Van der Merwe also makes use of the free parking for his car. He said Metrorail should consider underground parking for security reasons.
He was concerned that there would soon be too little parking because of all the interest.
Johan Hanekom said he was also impressed. “The train has been late a few times, but the staff always make sure we know what is going on.
“There was a cable theft last week and we were stuck a bit, but there was a reason for the delay,” he said.
Mamsi Maseko of Sunnyside walks to Pretoria station with a friend every morning. She said it would be great if Metrorail could consider having buses at selected stops to pick up people around the city.
“But otherwise I am enjoying the train and relieved about not having the traffic stress, even though I am not a driver,” she said.
Maseko said she used to use a lift club to work, which cost her R1 000 a month, but now she buys a monthly ticket for R750 and saves R250.
Raymond Matlala of Dan-ville said his only problem was that the heaters did not work.
“I must say that Metrorail have outdone themselves with this state-of-the-art service. But for heaven’s sake they must get the heaters working. It’s freezing.”
On arrival at Park station, buses await commuters to transport them to the CBD and surrounding areas, with dedicated security.
Commuters can opt for a monthly return ticket for R750; a weekly ticket for R300 or a daily ticket for R60.