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Public Transport in South Africa: What Needs to Change?

Published on: 27 April 2015

Since 1990, South Africa’s public transport system has repeatedly come under fire for a lack of commuter infrastructure. While there are a handful of gaps within our existing transport system, the necessary building blocks do exist. However, to reach the goal of a more efficient and reliable transport system, a significant change needs to take place.

With more than 15 million people who rely on public transport on a daily basis, South Africa is in need of a viable and sustainable transportation network. Large volumes of commuters are widely dependant on public transport; while a portion of middle-class citizens own their own vehicles. Despite a mix of rail, vehicle, motorcycle, bus and minibus taxi transport options, commuters still face a number of health and safety concerns. According to the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO), there are approximately 14 million people who make use of minibus taxis for their daily commute, accounting for 60 to 70% of South Africa’s workforce. The recorded minibus taxi death rate is 27 deaths per 10 000 vehicles - this statistic is three-times higher than vehicle accidents, which is recorded at nine deaths per 10 000.

In comparison to minibus taxi transportation, there are a number of South African commuters that rely on the Metrorail. Although highly successful in its heyday, the railway system has been criticised for its inefficiency and crime.

Those who opt to make use of buses are often subjected to strikes, breakdowns and delays – many individuals are of the opinion that this renders the system unreliable.

Alternatively, those who opt to use their own vehicles are faced with challenges like traffic delays, accidents or roadblocks. Due to the high statistics of daily collisions on South African roads, vehicle owners are faced with the absolute necessity of taking out car insurance. Not only does vehicle insurance protect the asset, it also ensures that drivers are able to avoid or minimise legal penalty in the event of an accident.

Gauteng boasts the Gautrain system, which has proved to be a success amongst many commuters. However, as the cost of living rapidly increases, it may soon be necessary to re-look at the system’s prices.

Numerous upgrades to freeways across the country will, once completed, result in a more efficient flow of traffic and freight movement. Despite these improvements, the systems upon which commuters predominately rely are not receiving the type of attention and funding that they need. By 2020, the South African government predicts that more than 85 percent of the population in our cities will be living within a kilometre of a transport network. For this to occur, a concentrated budget needs to be allocated to numerous transport platforms to ensure that improvement and efficiency plans can be carried out.  

Whichever public transport solution South African commuters opt to use, there is a significant concern regarding safety and efficiency. The handful of public transportation options that are available to commuters are, unfortunately, limited by their respective gaps in infrastructure and security. In an attempt to bring about change within the sector, the collective South African government should aim to work towards achieving a safe, reliable and affordable public transport system.

Until the necessary changes are made, South African commuters will need to rely on the existing platforms of transport. With this in mind, always be aware of your surroundings, keep an eye on your personal belongings, and if you happen to drive your car to and from work every day, be sure to invest in a reliable car insurance policy. Contact MiWay today for a complete insurance quote.

Want to find out more about the gap between the public transport system and the automobile industry? Click here.