Transportation in South Africa
Understanding the transportation infrastructure in South Africa is important. South Africa’s transportation system consists of a new public bus system and a taxi industry. When traveling in South Africa, it is important to plan your route beforehand and know the type of transportation you are going to use. Always carry a map and keep your personal belongings such as passport and financial items in a safe place. Safety on public transportation in South Africa is more of an issue of vehicles being unsafe rather than tourists being targeted by criminals on public transport, though it will be important to be aware of your surroundings and never get in a vehicle if you are suspicious of the people inside. When driving your own car, do not use short cuts, narrow alleys or poorly-lit streets. Keep your doors locked and never pick up hitch-hikers.
South Africa plans to spend R9-billion on improving and extending the transport infrastructure in the nine host cities to cope with the massive influx of visitors expected for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Preparations cover major upgrades to the country’s airports and improvements to the general transport system, the consolidation of passenger rail entities and the transformation of the bus industry. In order to deal with the increasing transport problems faced in Johannesburg, the City introduced the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT) designed to provide a high quality, fast, safe and affordable transport system.
- Additional information on the Rea Vaya Bust Rapid Transit System can be viewed here.
South Africa’s taxis operate as private businesses and represent a sizable portion of the country’s employment. Taxi fares should be negotiated before embarking. The industry is almost entirely made up of 16-seat commuter kombi buses which are sometimes unsafe or not roadworthy. A recent government-operated bus system has been established to offer more transportation services to the people of South Africa.
Many car hire companies will be operating during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Though more expensive than the taxi and bus system, car hires can prove to be a reliable form of transportation. Prices range from 242 Rand per day to 1140 Rand per day depending on length of rental and automobile selected. Car hire will enable tourists to travel across South Africa, although it is advisable to pre-book vehicles because of the high demand for the service. This can be done either directly through the car rental company or through a travel agent. The majority of car rental companies are represented at the main airports and in most city centers. Vehicles may be collected at one center and delivered to another branch, subject to certain fees to be confirmed with the individual rental companies. In order to book, you will need a valid international driver’s license. Any valid U.S. drivers license is accepted in South Africa, provided: it bears the photograph and signature of the holder; is printed in English; and if the license is issued while the holder thereof was not permanently or ordinarily a resident of South Africa for the period thereof; and, subject to the conditions under which such license was issued. If your license does not comply, you should obtain an International Driving Permit before departure. U.S. residents usually obtain International Driving Permits from local auto clubs affiliated with the AAA.
If you have a valid U.S. driver's license that meets the above criteria, you can rent a ten-set vehicle, or a smaller four-seat vehicle, without having a South African driver’s license.
For a list of South African car hire companies, please click here.