Learn taxi etiquette for Car Free Day...
Learn taxi etiquette for Car Free Day...
October 19 2005 at 02:09AM
By Alex Eliseev
It's not exactly the Hitchhicker's Guide To The Galaxy - it's The Sandton
Yuppie's Guide To Waving Down A Minibus Taxi. The colourful pamphlet, which
resembles a sign language textbook, is a new initiative from the City of
Joburg to help residents use public transport on Car Free Day on Thursday.
With the easy-to-follow guide, there is no excuse for busy bosses, addicted
to their BMW's navigation system and airconditioning, not to try sharing a
taxi with 72 percent of the city's workforce.
The pamphlet was launched at a press conference on Tuesday, where the city's
executive director of development planning, transport and environment,
Amanda Nair, said she was a little nervous of whether people would buy into
the concept of leaving their cars at home for a day.
"Let's wait and see what happens," said Nair, when asked whether she felt
the day would be a success.
"I'm just happy the day has become thought-provoking and people are talking
But regardless of whether motorists heed the no-car call, said Nair, the
"exciting initiative" was likely to become an annual event.
The pamphlet offers the following trade secrets for taxi novices:
For the ageing hippie, a peace sign will get you from Rabie Ridge to Ivory
Park. Add a third finger and you're cruising from Orlando to Dobsonville.
Or, try out the scuba diver's salute - the three-finger "okay" hand signal -
and you'll be whisked from Orlando to Joburg's inner city.
A better-known signal is a raised index finger, which is not an up-yours
sign but ensures you get to the CBD from almost anywhere in the city. Point
it downwards by mistake, and you will be spending the night in Diepkloof.
Cross your index fingers in an X, and you're in leafy Fourways.
Also, there are less orthodox signals that you won't find in the pamphlet.
These include sticking your bum out to go to Dunusa township on the East
Rand or pretending to be a choo-choo train to ride to the station. These
signs, however, are for professionals and should be executed with caution.
Another bonus feature of the pamphlet is a price index telling you exactly
how much your taxi trip should cost. Set out like a chessboard, you merely
have to match the locations and arrive at a price.
The cheapest fare is R3, for travelling inside Alexandra. The most expensive
is a trip from the same location to Randburg, costing a not-so-cool R8. From
Sandton to Killarney and from Alexandra to Zola, it's all covered.
But before you hit the pavement, you must know the taxi etiquette.
"Seating arrangements: front seats and seats immediately behind the driver
are reserved for people with disabilities or for people with large amounts
of luggage. All other seats must be occupied before these seats are taken."
Another reads: "Passengers in the front seat help the driver to count fares
and give change.
Passengers sitting next to the sliding passenger door must open and close
At the briefing, Nair and her team stressed that Car Free Day was not
compulsory and no roads would be closed off to people choosing to stick with
The initiative coincides with Public Transport Month.
The city, which is home to about four million people, has three major public
Of the one million residents who are employed, 72 percent use minibus taxis
while a mere 9 percent use buses. Trains are used by 14 percent of the
commuters, despite the fact that 1,6-million people live within 1,5km of the
city's 55 stations.
Overall, 53 percent of residents use private transport, but the government
would like to see that figure drop to 20 percent.
The city has about 10 000km of roads, and the average travel cost to work is
R186 a month.
Nair conceded that Joburg doesn't have the best transport system in the
world, but urged everybody to take part. "There's a long way to go before we
compare with the best in the world. We understand this and are working in
that direction," she said.
Various ministers and MECs have tried riding in buses and taxis over the
past few weeks - some with embarrassing results. Most have reported
unroadworthy taxis and irregular buses.
But Joburg is optimistic that its residents will be open-minded. "We expect
a diverse experience," Nair said.
This article was originally published on page 3 of The Star on October 19,