Sunday, 13 April 2008
Public Transport from Pietermaritzburg to Sandton
On 11 March 2008 I travelled from Pietermaritzburg to Sandton by public transport. It was an interesting exercise. I needed to get back from a short break in order to attend Peter Carruthers's Seminar, while Judith stayed a few more days in order to see clients in Durban. With a bit of internet research I established that there are no buses from Pietermaritzburg to Sandton. The best one can do is to get a bus (Greyhound and InterCape being the most popular) to Park Station in central Johannesburg. Metro buses from there to Sandton are also almost non-existent, so one is left with minibus taxis. I was able to book online for Greyhound or InterCape: The latter had such a confusing pricing structure, with ticket types that weren’t explained, that I gave up on them and booked Greyhound. They gave me 10% off for booking online. However, one has to go and collect one’s ticket in person at least 24 hours before travelling, which meant an extra trip into Pietermaritzburg the day before. There is no information on taxi routes on the web (a business opportunity, perhaps?). I resorted to asking amongst our black staff and established that I should go to the Noord Street taxi rank and ask for minibus taxis to Sandton-Morningside (not Sandton Central, which would not get me home). Came the big day, Judith dropped me off at the Greyhound station opposite McDonalds in Pmb well before 08:00 for departure around 09:00. In the event the bus only arrived from Durban at 09:35, but no-one seemed to be worried about this and they made up time later. The bus was comfortable and pretty new, and the hostess looked after us well on the trip. I’d brought a packed lunch which was just as well, as the lunch stop at Swinburne was all too short. Except for bashing my head on the overhead rack there were no problems, and we arrived in Johannesburg around 15:45. Now the adventure actually began. It was with some trepidation that I walked out of the station into Wolmarans St., along it to King George St., and then along King George to the notorious Noord St. It has been a while since I’ve been in the not-very savoury Johannesburg CBD, and many years since I’ve travelled by minibus taxi. I was the only white face in sight as I walked through the taxi area, asking for taxis to Sandton. I need not have worried, though: Although many were preoccupied with their own business, everyone I asked was friendly and helpful. I finally found the taxis to Sandton-Morningside (after first being directed to the ones to Sandton Central). They are in De Villiers Street just off Twist, in fact at the opposite end to where I started. I verified from the taxi marshal that it was in fact the right minibus, and the fare was indeed R8.50 as I had been informed, and got into the back of the nearly-new vehicle. When the taxi was full –which meant 13 people– we left. The driver immediately turned right against a red light, to hooting from outraged other drivers, and off we went up Twist Street! Our minibus taxi drivers are notorious for disobeying the traffic rules and I have issued more than one traffic ticket to them for this. I had taken the precaution of bringing only a small piece of hand luggage, which was just as well since the taxi was crowded. The route goes up Twist Street into Clarendon Place, a short bit of Louis Botha, then Houghton Drive and onto the M1 (N) Motorway. We then come off again at Grayston Drive (where people start getting dropped off), along Grayston and into Rivonia Road and along it to Morningside where I got off a block from home. The route goes on to the rank on Witkoppen Rd at Sunninghill. The taxi left town at 16:20 and I got home just before 17:00, delighted with my little adventure. Despite the negative publicity they get, the aggressive drivers and the number of un-roadworthy vehicles, I found my minibus taxi ride to be clean, safe, quick, and pleasant.