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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Johannesburg Getting Around
Getting Around Johannesburg - TravelPuppy.com
Public Transport

With a fleet of new buses, Metropolitan Bus Services (telephone: (011) 403 4300) offers a scheduled bus service covering 108 routes within the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan area. The service runs from 6.00 am to 7.00 pm and is less convenient than the forms of taxi transport but possibly safer, although visitors should not travel on an empty bus, due to the high risk of mugging. Fares work on a zonal system centring on Ghandi Square (formerly Vanderbijl Square) bus terminus, corner of Main and Rissik Streets, with zone 1 (single fare R 2,50) closest and zone 6 (single fare R 9) farthest.

No bus passes are presently available. Tickets can be bought on the bus from the driver or 10 trip clipcards can be bought from kiosks at Ghandi Square bus terminus. A fine of R 200 can be forced on anyone not in possession of a valid ticket.

Minibus taxis

The quickest (but not necessarily safest) way to get around Johannesburg is on 1 of the minibus taxis (sometimes called Zola Budds), which depart when full, pick up anywhere (just hold up an arm with raised index finger) and serve the main routes from 5.00 am to 9.00 pm. The primary minibus ranks are at the Newtown public car park, along the length of Noord Street between Twist and Claim Streets, and at Kazerne, on the corner of Sauer and Pim Streets. Visitors should note that taxi ranks are overwhelmed by petty thievery and should use a metered taxi if overloaded with baggage. The fare from central Johannesburg to Sandton or Soweto is around R 7, closer destinations, such as Melville and Bruma Lake, can cost between R 3 and R 5. There are no passes or pre paid tickets accessible for minibus taxis.

Taxis

Metered taxis are considerably more expensive however far safer and more convenient than minibuses. They do not cruise the streets and apart from at the airport and major hotels, they are generally waiting at an official rank, can only be telephoned for pickup. Visitors must ensure that the controller (on the telephone) and the driver decides the fare before allowing any luggage to be loaded. The meter rate is usually around R 4 to R 6 per kilometre, however, this is not correctly regulated so all fares should be confirmed with the driver in before. Unlike locals, foreigners often tip, and, although it is not expected, a R 10 to R 20 tip is appreciated. Visitors should keep away from all men offering rides in their taxis, as these are likely to be unregistered, illegal and unroadworthy.

Rose Radio Taxis (telephone: (011) 403 0000, facsimile: (011) 403 9896) are well established and have a reputation for reliability. Alternatively, Maxi Taxi Cabs (telephone: (011) 648 1212, facsimile: (011) 648 8581) are also advised.

Limousines

Ambassador Limousines (telephone: (011) 886 7313, facsimile: (011) 886 7339, email address: ambassadorlimos@hotmail.com) offers limousines, starting at R 350 per hour (minimum 3 hours).

SALimousines (telephone: (011) 614 4581, facsimile: (011) 614 7617) and VIPLimo (telephone: (082) 903 0888, facsimile: (011) 615 3506, email address: vip@mweb.co.za) hire limousines at R 550 for the 1st hour and R 250 per hour thereafter.

Driving in the City

Johannesburg’s rise fairly closely parallels that of the vehicle and this has allowed successive city planners to cater extremely well for the needs of private motorists. The network of roads and highways is brilliant and well maintained and, apart from in the Central Business District (CBD), parking facilities are generally more than adequate.

There is secure pay parking (R 3 to R 5 per hour) at Park City (24 hours) and at the Kazerne Municipal Parking Garage (6.00 am to 6.00 pm), entered from Simmonds. Visitors using street parking will come across children and adults hanging around the area and expect a tip of about R 2 for guarding people’s cars, it is recommended to pay up as not guarding the car may actually mean damaging it.

Traffic congestion is generally limited to the rush hour periods of 7.00 am to 9.00 am and 4.00 pm to 6.00 pm. At other times, most locations within the city can be reached easily in under an hour. The main road hazards are poor driving (especially by minibus taxi drivers), a lack of evident traffic policing and the constant danger of attack by smash and grab thieves and armed hijackers. Visitors should never stop for hitchhikers or at accident scenes and always keep their windows up and doors locked. After dark, several motorists also (illegally) ignore red traffic lights when in isolated or deserted areas, such as highway exits or intersections adjacent to parks, generally for safety reasons.

Car Hire

The car hire companies with a reputation for reliability (although not essentially for low prices) are Avis and Imperial. Avis (telephone: 0861 021111) has a branch in Sandton, 167A Rivonia Road, Morningside, with rates starting from R 220 per day.

Imperial has branches nationwide nationwide (telephone: (011) 784 1452), and the Rivonia Boulevard branch, Rivonia Road, Morningside, offers rates from R 173 per day. A cheaper option for travellers may be Apex (telephone: (011) 402 5150, facsimile: (011) 402 0655), otherwise known as Rent-A-Wreck, with branches at several locations. Apex rates are from R 70 per day, R 500 weekly (not including kilometre charge).

All the above rates do not include insurance and other charges. Optional insurance is provided by the car hire agencies and is highly advised, particularly against theft. All car hire companies require drivers to be at least 23 years old and to have been driving for a minimum of 5 years. A passport, credit card and International Driving Permit (IDP) will be necessary.

Bicycle Hire and Scooter Hire

Johannesburg’s town planners have made absolutely no provision for bicycles in their grand schemes and subsequently several motorists do not view cyclists as being legitimate users of the road. It therefore comes as no shock that no one hires out bicycles in Johannesburg.