If you live in the city in South Africa and you don’t own a car, the only way you can get around the city is by using public transport.
Transportation services available include buses, trains, metered cabs and taxis.
I’ll zoom into taxis because that’s the mode of public transport I use the most. South Africa’s taxi industry sprang up during the apartheid days when black South Africans had to live in townships located far from the cities where they worked and where bus service was spotty. They were the most convenient and affordable mode of transportation, and until today, they are the more preferred mode of transportation for many commuters.
Taxis are more than just a mode of transportation because they are a social space where different types of people interact. Off-course with any social space comes a set of unwritten rules which try to regulate people’s behaviour and interactions with each other.
While I was sitting in the taxi on my way to work, I realized that there are some unwritten rules that apply to commuters and drivers. These rules are in place to make life easier for both parties by limiting frustrations born out of misunderstandings and by making expectations clear.
As a commuter waiting for a taxi by the side of the road, make sure to give the correct hand signals to show the taxi driver where you’re going. Drivers get frustrated when they stop for commuters only to be told that they’re going to a location different from what was communicated through the hand signal.
When you sit in the front seat, make sure that your maths skill is up to scratch. It is a rule that commuters that sit in front act as the driver’s cashier, collecting taxi fares and giving change to passengers where necessary. You will get blasted by the taxi driver and fellow commuters if you decide to sit in front and fail at being an impromptu cashier.
Don’t pay your taxi fares with large bills in the morning. It’s the quickest way to annoy a grumpy taxi driver who’s been up since 4am and doesn’t have any change to give. Pay the exact amount, or pay with small bills.
There’s no such thing as a discount when boarding a taxi, and don’t make the mistake of trying to cheat a taxi driver of the required fare. Drivers will not hesitate to leave commuters by the side of the road if they are cheated of fares, and if you are unable to pay the full fare, you will be left behind.
If you’re going to disembark the taxi at the next stop before any other commuter, don’t sit in the back seat. This will annoy fellow commuters who have to get off the taxi to make way for you, and it wastes time, especially during peak hours when people are trying to get to work or rush home.
Motorists need to accept the fact that taxi drivers will stop on the left-hand side of the road for passengers disembarking from the taxi, and it will be an inconvenience. There are no designated stops for taxis like there are for buses, and as a result, taxi drivers have created their own. Don’t hoot, shout or pull zap signs because you’re the only one who’ll get aggravated. Just pass right and go about your way.
The best thing you can do is buy your own car so that moving around the city is convenient. But while you’re working towards that goal, observe these rules to make your commute with taxis a little easier 🙂
*image from Environment News South Africa.