twenty-six. on South African public transport.
No trams, no tube, yes buses & public taxis. For a European South African public transport is not that lekker at first. You can’t get anywhere anytime using it. If you don’t have a car you have to Make Plans and Plans involve asking people for lifts and walking long distances.
I won’t talk too much about buses. Buses here are just like buses anywhere else, maybe late a bit more often. I’d rather tell you about public taxis. Public taxis or minibus taxis are more of a cultural experience than any tourist attraction. They’re often overcrowded and usually loud. Surprisingly enough, the music you’re going to hear are not tribal tunes and passengers rarely bring spears with them. They also usually leave their pet lions at home. Most drivers listen to R’n’B or club hits, but some of them are romantic deep inside. The romantics listen to Celine Dion, Whitney Houston and Bryan Adams. I really find it adorable when a guy looking like B.A. from A-team, croons “Please forgive me I can’t stop loving you” behind the wheel. Apart from the music, what is cool about public taxis is solidarity. People sitting closest to the driver pass him the money, if he didn’t hear where do you want to get off they’ll start screaming so that he stops for you, they’ll also ask him to wait if they see you running. To take advantage of the driver who’s on his own is relatively easy – it’s enough to jump off at the robots* without paying, yet I’ve hardly seen any chancers. Most drivers are accompanied by Screamers. The Screamer is a person who shouts “Lady, lady, town, town!” and other similar things aimed at encouraging prospective passengers. The Screamer also collects money from the passengers and helps you out if you’re not sure where to get off. In general, people are really friendly and helpful around here. Still, being Magda from da block, I’m proud of myself that I know the names in Capetownian topography and therefore have a taxi stopping where I like it to stop. That’s actually the coolest thing about taxis, that there are no designed stops and you can get in and off on the route as you please. The uncoolest thing, however, is that the driver will rarely change his route to accommodate you. I wish people were less prejudiced against using public taxis. They can be dangerous in late evenings and the public transport in CT is not ideal but some Capetownians seem to consider them a source of leprosy and who knows what else (okay, okay, I used to be just like that after I first moved here).
*SA word for traffic lights