Your Expat Guide to Public Transport Cape Town
The public transport Cape Town network is not as extensive as in many other cosmopolitan cities around the world. But as an expatriate you will fortunately not have to rely on the public transport system alone.
Nevertheless I want to show you the transport options which you might consider for your daily commute. If you live in certain well-served areas, like the Atlantic Coast you could use the public transport to commute from these suburbs to your office in the city centre.
Transport Cape Town: Metropolitan buses
Metropolitan bus services like Golden arrow buses are improving but their travel net is not very extensive. The routes cover most of the Cape Town suburbs, but the services are not very reliable.
The travel schedules however are often enough only estimates of arrivals. So you have to be prepared to wait at the bus shelters or at sign-posted bus stops. Sometimes you will find route maps at the bus stops.
The public transport is affordable transportation for the local commuters, as it is subsidized by the government.
Trains in Cape Town
A more reliable Metrorail network links Cape Town with the Southern Peninsula and the Western Cape.
Travelling to the Southern Suburbs should be safe enough during daylight and if you keep to busy compartments. One of my expatriate friends commutes also daily from the Northern Suburbs into the city centre and does not have any safety concerns. However you should not display your laptop, but hide it in a backpack.
One trip you really have to do while staying in Cape Town is to travel by train along the scenic trip from Muizenberg to Simonstown to take in the breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and False Bay. With a bit of luck you might even see whales or dolphins swimming or jumping nearby.
The gap in the public transport system is filled by the many private taxi operators. In Cape Town what we call taxis are the mainly white coloured minibus-vans which may transport up to 16 people. Taxis are slightly more expensive than buses and trains, but you can hail a taxi from everywhere.
There are huge taxi stands at most of the shopping centers too. The main pick-up point is in Adderley Street above the train station. But be prepared that these taxis often will stop and wait for more passengers to come with you until the minibus van is full. A must is to have the exact change for the trip.
Security issues regarding cars which were not roadworthy were discussed openly in public. Recently the minibus taxis seem to be much safer than even two years earlier, when there were many old minibuses on the roads.
Due to constant checks by the Traffic Police on the main taxi routes and government incentives to get rid of old cars, these unsafe taxi minibuses disappear slowly from Cape Town’s streets.
However I would advise you take a minibus taxi only on one of the more central routes and not to go without a local guide into a township area. Safe routes for transport Cape Town are for example the trip from the City Centre to Sea Point or from Observatory into the City Centre.
Please look for a detailed transport Cape Town bus, taxi and train schedule at mti.co.za or check out the information of the South African Rail Commuter Corporation under www.sarcc.co.za for more information on timetables, stations.