Blog Guest Contributor: Marianne du Toit Pieterse
An Unpopular Mode of Transport
Public transport is often frowned upon, especially as a means of getting to and from work. Most people are privileged enough to travel to work by car, yet they complain about the ever-increasing price of fuel and the congested traffic. Who can blame them? Public transport in South Africa doesn’t have a good reputation – striking bus drivers as well as the safety factor when travelling alone; especially if you’re a woman.
Cost of Living
With all this said, travelling by bus can be a solution to the rising costs of living. You can buy a once-off tag from Metro Bus at any participating Computicket and load your weekly or monthly trips.
Concessions are available to the following individuals, who are charged different rates:
- Senior citizens;
- Students; and
- Handicapped individuals
Of course, you could use cash but make sure you have the exact amount as the drivers don’t always have change. Also be aware of the risks when carrying cash. Weekly, monthly and cash fares also depend on the different zones you travel across the city. Johannesburg commuters can get a copy of the zones as well as a timetable with the approximate departure and arrival times at Metro Head Office on Ghandi Square.
There is an annual increase in bus fares in July, varying between 5-8%.
It’s All About The Timing
Metro buses are mostly on time, except if the regular route driver is on leave or sick. Some depots don’t always make timeous arrangements for a relief driver which could leave passengers disgruntled.
Be Prepared or Be Scared
Being prepared for your commute is key, especially in summer. Always carry an umbrella! Thunderstorms come without warning at times and being caught in a rainstorm while waiting for a bus or arriving at work wet, is not a pleasant experience – no matter how much you love the rain.
That Stranger is my Friend
There are regular passengers and many a friendship is formed during your commute. Most commuters are friendly and will greet as you make your way to an open seat. There is a sense of camaraderie on a bus – everyone is making their way to their jobs or returning home. Having a friendly chat with a fellow traveller makes the time go by so much quicker; you are oblivious to traffic issues.
Making the Most of your Time
There is no shortage of ideas of making the most of your time.
- Some people prefer reading – a newspaper or a book;
- Scholars usually have their noses in a textbook, especially during exam time;
- Playing games on cell phones;
- Listening to music – headphones over the ears, the volume turned up.
Advantages of Travelling to Work by Bus
- It is more cost effective then travelling by car;
- The bus driver is the one facing the long queues, the traffic jams or out of order traffic lights;
- You get fit from walking to and from the bus stop;
- You arrive at your destination, relaxed and perhaps even with an extra spring in your step.
Disadvantages of Travelling to Work by Bus
- Bus services could be unreliable which results in you arriving at work late;
- You are exposed to the elements – rain in summer and cold in winter.
A sense of Familiarity, of Belonging
There is a sense of respect, community and almost family. People support one another. People learn to understand and appreciate other cultures.
Ideas are born. Plans are made. Problems are solved.
A true welcome can be found on the faces of your fellow travellers, especially after an absence of time. Walking up the bus steps, swiping your tag as you greet the driver and the smiles of hellos of greetings being exchanged as you make your way to your favourite seat by the window.