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November 04, 2009

Cape Town transport: your guide to getting around for the World Cup

Let’s say you’re a visitor to the world’s most beautiful city – which, in case you’ve just emerged blinking from the woods shouting “Is the war over?”, is Cape Town. And let’s say it’s 2010 and the FIFA World Cup crowds are coursing through the streets and up the lanes and down the highways, seething like lava flow along pavements, pouring into alleys and boiling onto the beaches and far, far out to sea and, well, just everywhere in the world’s most beautiful city.

Given this scenario, we thought you could use a few pointers on getting around if you’re planning to be in Cape Town during the World Cup.

You can self-drive. But this method is Discouraged. The official version reads, “Travelling by private vehicle at this time is strongly discouraged due to extensive road closures, traffic exclusion areas, parking restrictions and probable congestion.” Translated, this means please, please don’t drive around gormlessly, adding to the congestion and making life really difficult for the patient Capetonians who still have to get to work and fetch the kids from school and all that stuff. Better to use some of the alternative transport methods laid on. 

Shuttle buses: Special shuttle buses will leave the airport at regular intervals according to demand. They will take visitors to Cape Town’s central transport hub in Hertzog Boulevard and from the hub to the stadium and back on match days. From the hub, you can take a metered taxi to your accommodation. Look out for the information kiosk and volunteers who will happily assist you with directions or advice.

Railway:  70% of the Cape Town metro area is served by an efficient, safe rail network. The central station is a short walk from the transport hub in Hertzog Boulevard. There will be 15 major stations offering park-and-ride facilities, metered taxi services and security, lighting, information points and volunteer assistance. Ten smaller stations will offer security but not information points. Many hotels offer a shuttle service to and from the big stations. The rail service will operate from 04h00 to 01h00 throughout the World Cup, with trains passing through at least every hour. There will also be a regular service from the central railway station to the outlying towns of Stellenbosch and Paarl.

Metered taxis: These will operate from some of the 15 major rail stations and from the central transport hub in Hertzog Boulevard outside the Cape Town Civic Centre. Hotel concierge desks will be able to assist visitors in taking metered taxis to the transport hub and a shuttle bus to the stadium on match days.

Car rental. Bearing in mind that this mode of transport will add to the general mayhem and congestion, nevertheless you can find car rental desks at the airport and other car hire venues in the city. A reminder that in South Africa we drive on the left-hand side of the road, the law requires that we wear safety belts while driving, and we observe the speed limits in kilometres per hour.

Minibus taxi:  This mode of transport covers most of the metropolitan area and is used widely by locals. They are not generally recommended for tourists, but they are an excellent way to get around and operate to and from the public viewing areas. Information on the location of minibus taxi terminals can be obtained from all transport information kiosks.

Bicycle:  A limited number of bicycles and helmets (a safety requirement when cycling on South African roads) can be hired from outside the central rail station.

Special needs travellers: Ticket-holders with a match seating ticket for disabled persons will be able to take a Dial-a-Ride bus to the stadium and back on match days, provided they pre-book their seats. 

And lastly, there’s walking. (Remember walking?) The Fan Walk starts outside the central railway station in Adderley Street and ends at the entrance to the stadium precinct – a distance of about 2.5km along an easy route where vehicles will not be allowed. This will be a great and safe way to get into the festive spirit with other fans. There will also be pedestrian access to the stadium from the V&A Waterfront. Walking to the stadium and back on match days is strongly recommended as there could be delays while moving large numbers of fans from the stadium by bus after matches. Just one precaution, as in most large cities, walking alone after dark in unpopulated areas is Discouraged.

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