Several urban areas, including Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria and Jo’burg, have city bus networks.
Fares are cheap.
Routes, which are often signboarded, are extensive.
Services often stop running early in the evening, and there aren’t many on weekends.
In terms of safety and convenience, only Cape Town’s MyCiTi buses and Durban People Mover are recommended.
Shared minibus taxis run almost everywhere – around cities, and to the suburbs, townships and neighbouring towns. Riding them offers an insight into local life, but be aware that there are safety issues.
They leave when full – though ‘full’ in South Africa isn’t as packed as in many African countries.
Most accommodate 14 to 16 people. Slightly larger ‘sprinters’ accommodate about 20.
Away from train and bus routes, shared taxis may be the only choice of public transport.
At weekends they generally have reduced services or no departures.
Visit TaxiMap (http://taximap.co.za) for a useful database of minibus-taxi routes, fares and other information.
Car taxis are sometimes shared. In some towns, and on some longer routes, a shared car taxi may be the only transport option.
Shared car taxis are more expensive than minibus taxis and similar in terms of safety.
Money saved by taking shared taxis is generally outweighed by safety considerations.
Overall, taking shared taxis is not recommended.
Driving standards and vehicle conditions are poor.
There are frequent accidents.
There are occasional gangster-style clashes between rival companies.
Shared-taxi stations and their immediate surroundings are often unsafe.
Muggings, pickpocketing, sexual harassment and other incidents are common.
If you want to try riding in a shared taxi, don’t travel at night, read the newspapers and seek local advice on lines and areas to avoid.
In a few areas shared taxis are relatively safe during daylight hours. This is notably the case in central Cape Town, where locals from all walks of life use shared taxis.
Do not travel with luggage, partly because most shared taxis don’t carry bags on the roof, and stowing backpacks can be a hassle.
Shared Taxi Etiquette
Passengers with luggage should sit in the first row behind the driver.
Move along the seat to the window to give others easy access.
Pass the money forward (your fare and those of the people around you) to the driver's assistant.
If you sit on the folding seat by the sliding door, it’s your job to open and close the door when passengers get out. You’ll have to get out of the taxi each time.
Some shared taxis, for example in Cape Town, have a conductor who calls out to potential passengers and handles the minibus door.
Say: ‘Thank you, driver!’, when you want to get out, rather than just: ‘Stop!’
Larger cities have private taxi services, with taxi stands in popular areas.
Phoning for a cab is often safer; you will have to wait for the taxi to arrive, but the vehicle will likely be better quality than those at the stands.
Rates vary between cities; in Cape Town, rates average R10 per kilometre, often with a minimum charge of R30 or more.
Uber is popular in larger cities and operates in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Port Elizabeth.