You can get from OR Tambo International airpot to Johannesburg City in less than $1 and I really mean less than $1. If you had told me this back in September last year I would not have believed it. Having been a tourist in Jozi (Johannesburg) twice, I had already become accustomed to paying around $16 (165 Rands) for the luxurious Gautrain service that runs from OR Tambo International airport to Johannesburg city centre in about 35 minutes. A few weeks ago I made yet another visit to Jozi and it was due to the spirit of adventure that I came to discover the metro rail.
Why choose metro rail?
Well the best reason here would be cost saving. A ticket to Johannesburg city center costs just Rand 7.50 that is around 75 cents or $0.75. By boarding the metro rail you will be paying 22 times less than what you would pay for the Gautrain and 50 times less than what you would pay for a taxi (Taxi may cost up to Rand 380 or $38). This is a great option for an adventurous back packer.
How to locate the metro rail?
Getting to the metro rail station will require a bit of walking. Just walk out of OR Tambo International airport doors and make your way to the road. It is a good idea to ask for direction but one good sign is if you see a bridge. Word of advice; be confident, cautious and walk across. The metro rail station from OR Tambo International is called Isando.
What to expect?
Metro rail is one of the oldest transport system in Jozi and luck has it that it has been subsidized by the government. Paying low prices should not come as a shock but behold:
- Overlook the trashed platforms and the misbehaving man who has chosen to pee by the walls
- Don’t worry all that graffiti is what makes this city all so artistic
- Don’t hold your breath when you notice a commuter jumping from one train to the next
- Don’t panick when you see a group of youth holding the doors open or hanging on them while the train is on the move
- Don’t be judgmental when you see people jumping off the train, running across the tracks and jumping over the fence to escape paying for their ticket
- By all means pay 2 rands for ice or chocolate and may be buy yourself a padlock from the hawkers in the train
- I have been told that the metro rail serves as a business ground for bag snatchers
All the above are an every day adventure aboard the metro rail. While in Johannesburg a few weeks ago I have used the metro rail in more occasions than I can count. Gosh! I even boarded from Jozi to Pretoria for a bit of sight seeing.
What did I enjoy about the metro rail?
I would never have thought that I would enjoy riding on the trains. At first it felt very uncomfortable and every one looked dangerous according to my first impression. However once I started using the metro rail I began to enjoy the variety of its commuters. I could see the story of some one just like myself hassling everyday to achieve a personal goal. The ride is slower than the Gautrain but the scenery and the lands that you pass allow you to relate to the stories of its inhabitants. It’s an humbling experience.
Word of Caution!
Always trust your instincts. Stay safe and watch your belongings. Remain calm and open minded and may be you will discover something unique about yourself and something common about all of us.