Public Transport in Johannesburg
Getting to and from Oliver Tambo International Airport
Make use of the shared airport shuttle, take one of the metred taxis which are operating from taxi rank located just outside the arrivals area or jump on the Gautrain to/from Sandton. Gautrain's timetable is now available as a pdf download! Some accommodation establishments have a free pick-up service, some others charge you a certain fee.
Minibus taxis are probably the most convenient and most used public transport in South Africa. Dominant characteristics are loud music (everything from hiphop to eurodance), big stickers on their cars like “I am the fastest” and too many passengers already in the bus when you try to get in. But they are cheap and bring you almost everywhere you want to go to
Minibuses in Johannesburg are covering the whole city. You stop them by hailing or by pointing your index finger into the air. But keep in mind - the use of the taxi system for anything other than a short drive requires an expert knowledge of the lore of hand signs indicating which taxi is travelling where, and an understanding of the various routes and how they intersect.
Rates: taking the minibus is always, beside taking the train, the cheapest way of travelling in Johannesburg
Problems: most of the minibus drivers tend to feel like Michael Schumacher as soon as they are in their vehicle. They driving style can be quite dangerous. Especially when the minibuses are very crowded, pickpockets can be around. So always mind your stuff and don't show your jewelleries around.
Contacts: they are loads of different companies in Johannesburg – just pick the most reliable looking minibus and you are fine… Click here for a list of taxi ranks in the city.
The city's bus service used to be the centre of Johannesburg's pubilc transport, but nowadays the minibus taxis took over this position. In a tourist point of view the bus service almost not existing, but due to the World Cup 2010 preparations the Metrobus service will constantly improve. Click here for their current timetable.
UPDATE: Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT) comprises a middle lane for large, high tech buses which will transport you comfortably and quickly around Johannesburg using specific designated routes, enclosed bus stations along the routes and a high tech control centre to ensure your Rea Vaya experience is a world class one.
Contacts: See their website or phone them 011 375 5555 (Metrobus).
Metered Taxis are the most expensive but also the safest way of travelling through Johannesburg. Especially at night taking a taxi is the only decision to make. Always have a look that the drivers name and identification is clearly on display.
You can't hail a taxi in the streets – they have taxi ranks or you phone them.
Rates: most expensive public transport in Johannesburg– but still quite reasonable
Problems: none – just check if it's a real/official metered taxi or not. All taxis are regulated by the City of Johannesburg.
Contact: ask at your hostel/hotel for a number or, when you are in a pub/bar/restaurant, ask the staff there – they call the taxi for you.
The Gautrain Rapid Rail Link is a state-of-the-art rapid rail network in Gauteng. Gautrain currently offers two distinct train services: an “airport service” linking Sandton to the O.R.Tambo International Airport and a “commuter service” linking Sandton, Marlboro and Rhodesfield stations. All stations with the exception of the Airport station have integrated car parking facilities. The Gautrain bus fleet currently operates on seven routes; six radiating out from Sandton Station and one from Rhodesfield station.
During the course of 2011, six new stations and approximately 25 new bus routes will be added to the system. Future stations will be located in the Johannesburg CBD, Rosebank, Midrand, Centurion, Pretoria CBD and Hatfield. Gautrain's timetables are available on their website!
update (03 Aug 2011): The section from Rosebank Station in Johannesburg to Hatfield Station in Tshwane and all stations on this section is now open.
Johannesburg Metro Rail
The Johannesburg Metro Rail is covering only the older areas in the city's south. None of the Northern areas of Johannesburg, such as Sandton, Midrand, Randburg or Rosebank have any rail infrastructure.
Rates: depending on the class you choose more or less expensive… still cheap prices.
Problems: The trains can get quite crowded in the rush-hour and can become a little unsafe during this time… 1 st class is probably the safest option. Don't take the trains at night.