Cheapest way to Jozi?
A READER who has to go to Jo’burg on a weekly basis on a contract job asked me what is the cheapest way to get to the Big Smog from our fair PMB?
Bear in mind the toll fees one way amount to R218. A three-quarter tank of fuel for the 500km trip costs over R700. Add a can of oil and snacks from any of the expensive forecourts along the N3, and the luxury of driving one way to Jo’burg in splendid isolation will cost around R1 000.
So, I told the reader a long distance taxi is the cheapest, fastest way to get to Gauteng from PMB.
Taxi divers tell me December prices will likely go up to R300 for a one-way seat (and all the Maskandi you can listen to for mahala).
The next best bet is a bus. Booked well in advance, long distance bus tickets cost as much (or as little) as a seat on a taxi, and their comfort is on par with that of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
Despite 15 million people a day using public transport, the friend was a bit dubious on safety.
“What about the train?” he asked. So I rode the Shosholoza Meyl, which cost about the same as a Greyhound bus ticket.
Because it was mid-week, I had a double bunk coupe to myself and with no cables stolen that day, the train arrived on schedule at the clean and modern Park Station, from where I took the Gautrain and cheap Gautrain bus to the final destination.
But Prasa’s clumsy electronic booking forced me to buy a ticket the old fashioned way, handing over cash at the station, and after an all-night journey with many a juddering stop and clanging start, the toilets were full to overflowing.
Also, the next week, cables were stolen and the Meyl halted in some industrial part of the West Rand for most of the day. This happens rather a lot, the conductor told me.
Hence, I recommend driving your own car with four people in it.
Even if they are not paying passengers, the total cost to Jozi now amounts to R250 per person, making a family car the most cost effective and — more importantly — the most comfortable way to get to GP. (This of course excludes the monthly expenses one has to pay on a car regardless of whether it is parked or in use.)
Instead of spending all your savings on roadside snacks, I also suggest boiling up some eggs and making sarmies. This way you can stop at scenic spots (where it is safe to do so) to turn the journey into the destination. • Have a travel-related question in southern Africa? Send it to Alwyn.Viljoen@witness.co.za