Photo by: Creamer Media

Photo by: Creamer Media

“Transport is the heartbeat of South Africa’s economic growth and social development,” says Department of Transport.

Public transport plays a huge role because South Africans are dependent on it.While cars dominate the roads,public transport still plays a critical role;transporting the South African working class on a daily basis.

Public transport commuters face significant public transport problems

Diary of  some of this month’s public transport woes

  •  A five year old girl died and nine others got injured on the N1 near the R101 in Polokwane this month. It is understood the accident was caused by one taxi towing another, when one of the drivers lost control that saw the taxi rolling.
  • The South African taxi industry has also seen numerous incidents of violence among taxi drivers and their operators. On 4 February, a taxi driver was shot dead at Bree Street taxi rank in the Johannesburg CBD, metro police said.
  • Rea Vaya bus service has been suspended until there are enough drivers to operate. This is after Rea vaya striking bus drivers were suspended. The strike started two weeks ago and has inconvenienced its commuters, especially those who do not have money to board taxis.


Most students rely on public transport such as buses for their daily trips. University Institutions in Johannesburg have buses allocated to their students. Primary and High school pupils also rely heavily on buses to get to school.

Barely two months into 2015 – 10 pupils have died and more than 30 injured in accidents across the country. Speaking to IOL news ER24 spokesperson Russel Meiring, he said most accidents involving pupils transport occurred because of overloading.

The national and provincial governments have firm legislation around transporting scholars; the national scholar policy.

“This policy recognises the  need to bring a uniform approach to the transportation of scholars and provide a safe, reliable and efficient transport system,” said former minister of transport JT Radebe, in the final draft foreword of the policy.


They are most popular because they are fairly affordable for everyday trips compared to other modes of transport. A single train ticket only costs R8.50 to the townships and towns around the Gauteng province.The train service in South Africa run by Metro-rail Trains is a popular means of transport especially among the poorer communities. The metro-rail train is characterised by the yellow and grey trains operating across the country.

Metro trains have had some problems with regard to safety and overloading.

According to FrugalMonkey (International travel website) metro trains are not recommended if you are travelling with children and it would be advisable to take extra care when you are at the station.
For safety reasons, Metro works closely with the Victorian Police Transit Safety Division. They also have CCTV surveillance on trains and in stations. In addition, there is an increased lighting and employee presence in stations and car parks according to metro website.

The numbers

According to Arrive Alive there are approximately 3.9 million public transport commuters In South Africa. The
2.5 million taxi commuters account for over 63% of public transport work trips.

Bus services account for another 22% of public transport commuters and the balance are carried to work by train, according to Arrive Alive.

A study done by the Automobile Associations of South Africa recorded an annual total of 70 000 minibus taxi crashes.

This indicates that taxis in SA amount for double the rate of crashes than all other public vehicles.

Taxis are the most popular mode of transport in urban areas. Of the 36 lives lost on our roads daily, three are lost in taxi related accidents.