The benefits of public transport considering climbing fuel costs
South Africans have faced a series of fuel price increases, and commuters are feeling the pinch more than ever. Unfortunately, and inevitably, the fuel increase is likely to push minibus taxi fares up too.
Yet even with the increases in the fuel price, using public transport is much more affordable compared to the high costs of a car owner who travels alone or with just a few passengers. By using public transport, the increased fuel cost is shared over the large number of commuters per vehicle, and the millions of daily commuters. The National Household Travel Survey conducted by Stats SA in 2013 revealed that only 30% of households in SA owned a car. Therefore, the minibus taxi industry shared the remaining 70% with buses, trains and other non-motorised transport modes. The minibus taxi industry transports about 65% of the population to their different destinations.
Using public transport – be it a minibus taxi, train, bus or e-hailing service – varies in cost depending on where you live, but it is still significantly more cost-effective than private transport. Owning a car offers flexibility and convenience, but the costs can be significant:
- Monthly loan repayments, if you have to finance the purchase
- Insurance – even the most basic third party insurance is a necessity
- Ongoing maintenance and service costs, including tyres
- Annual licence renewal
Government subsidies for the minibus taxi industry remains an issue – while bus and train services are subsidised, the majority of commuters – 15 millions commuter trips daily – use minibus taxis, as they provide a more efficient service over shorter routes in urban and township communities.
In spite of challenging conditions, the minibus taxi industry remains responsive to the economic circumstances of South Africans and are the accessible choice of public transport for many commuters thanks to its route flexibility and reasonable fares.