Carless in Johannesburg

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This was my first week in Johannesburg as an adult with no car of my own. It has been a very interesting week!

My first observation is that, the assumption that you HAVE to have a car in Johannesburg is so deeply rooted that many people find it quite horrifying that I might voluntarily be without one. In fact, I have often made just such a statement.

The truth is that you don’t really. I mean, you DO have to plan a bit better and those last minute, spur of the moment arrangements DO suffer. Actually it’s a bit more like life before cell phones… You have to plan ahead and rely on people to keep their commitments to you. So far so good!

Public Transport And Me
So, this week has been walking and the use of the Gautrain bus services. The only problem with this plan has been the fact that my nearest Gautrain bus stop if 3.3 kilometres from where I am living. Otherwise they are clean, fast, prompt and cheap.

I also have caught a couple of taxis around… the metered cab type. These I still think are too expensive for regular, heavy use for most people, but certainly work

Next week, ordinary metro busses are on the menu as well as minibus taxis as I need to get to parts of JHB that are not serviced by the Gautrain busses. The adventure continues.

Cars, Busses And Trains
Apart from the shock and horror that greets the discovery of my carlessness, the next dominant reaction is how expensive this must be. I don’t think that most Joburgers actually add up what they spend on their cars every month. For most people, it’s in the region of 6-10 000 rand every month. This includes repayments, fuel, insurance, parking and maintenance. R10 000 is a fuck load of money to spend on public transport in a month, and I am not anticipating getting anywhere near that! This week so far has cost me R380.00

Friends, Feet and Family
Of course I have also relied a bit on lifts from friends, family and colleagues to cut out some of the walking that this approach entails. So far I have walked about 24 kilometres into the bargain, which has also been good for me.

Pavements are a unique way to view a city and the way I got to know London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Kathmandu and Delhi. It’s good to see the pace one leaves from the same perspective. And I maintain: Johannesburg is a beautiful place.

Would love to hear your public transport stories from Johannesburg cos, well, you know it’s environmentally friendly as well!

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