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.