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March 26, 2014

How to Avoid Traffic in Cape Town

According to a study by Tom Tom GPRS, Capetonians will spend 96 hours each year stuck in traffic. As a busy international city, that’s almost to be expected - you’d be disappointed if you were in New York and the streets were empty! How do we get around it? We’ll tell you. 

Courtesy of Rashiq

The Basics: Rush Hour

Avoid going into Cape Town from 7:00am – 9:00am and leaving Cape Town from 4:00pm to 7:00pm. This is rush hour, with congestion peaking at 92% according to Tom Tom, doubling the time on any commute. The N1 and N2 highways are particularly hairy during these times. How do the locals get around it?

1. Use MyCiti Busses

The MyCiti bus network is a dependable and cost-effective way of getting yourself from the outer suburbs into and around the CBD. It’s a safe and popular option that has provided an effective alternative for many Capetonians. How to start?

Step 1: The first thing you’ll need is a R25 myconnect card, which recently beat out Turkey and Utah for international service excellence award (i.e. it works really well) at the Transport Ticket 2014 Conference and Expo in London. You can buy your card from any of the MyCiti kiosks dotted around town and the suburbs or via participating retails (see all them here.)

Step 2: Once you’ve bought your card you then load money onto it at the vendor, which you’ll use for your fares.

Step 3: When you get on a bus, you tap the card against a validator. Same thing when you get off. The fare is automatically subtracted from your card. Easy as that!

Fares are calculated according to distance. So going from Camp’s Bay to Adderley Street in town, a distance of 5-10km, costs a maximum of R7.90.

The categories 0-5km, 5-10km, 10-20km, 20-30km, 30-60km, and 60km or more.

Standard fares are R5.70, R6.50, R7.50, R10.50, 11.70 and R18.30 respectively.

You can use this fare calculator for exact numbers and link through to a map of the stations closest to you.

View the time table here.

2. Golden Arrow

Golden Arrow are Cape Town’s ubiquitous yellow busses and have been around for over 150 years. Here’s a simple walk-through for using these busses for your first time:

Step 1: Different busses take different routes, meaning that not every bus that approaches your stop will going to your destination. Check out the timetables and the routes beforehand here so you know which ones to look out for. You can see where the bus is going from the large electronic text displayed above the windscreen.

Step 2: When you get on the bus, tell the driver where you are going. The driver will let you know the price, which you’ll pay immediately in cash. You get your ticket and sit down anywhere on the bus. A ticket will cost you between R5 and R25 on average depending on your destination. You can also get monthly and weekly tickets beforehand at any of these vendors, which works out cheaper in the long run.

Step 3: The bus driver won’t announce your destination when you stop. If you don’t know any landmarks to orientate yourself you’ll need to ask around. When you near your bus stop, you’ll need to get up and press a button above you in the walkway between the seats. This signals to the bus driver to stop. You can then disembark. Success!

3. Metrorail

Cape Town Metrorail provides a cheap public transport option for thousands of Capetonians throughout the year. Here’s a quick how to guide:

Step 1: You’ll need to figure out which route to take first. You can go online or pick up the little booklet available at all stations, or you can examine the information board on the wall at the station.

Step 2: Buy your ticket from the ticket office. We’d recommend you select the Metro Plus ticket rather than the standard Metro ticket, since although it’s slightly more expensive the security is also slightly better. Buying a monthly or weekly ticket is a particularly cost-effective option.

Step 3: Remember to ask the person behind the counter what time the next train to your destination is arriving and which platform it is arriving at. Be aware that these details are not printed on your ticket.

Step 4: Once you’ve found the correct platform and see your approaching train, you’ll notice all the carriages are labelled. The front half are Metro Plus coaches, the back half are Metro coaches. We recommend you avoid empty coaches. 

Step 5: There’s no public announcement system for each stop, so you’ll have to orientate yourself by asking people or by looking out the window and spotting landmarks.  Each station has signs on the platform with the name of the station shown clearly, such as Claremont or Rondebosch, so it’s easy to spot where you are at each stop. You can also check the Route maps above most train doors for reference on where you are.

If you get hopelessly lost or need any sort of assistance, call the help number toll-free 24/7 on 0800 65 64 63. This also works for MyCiti busses and is available in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa. 

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