Tag Archives: public transport

Traffic trafiqué à la Bruxelloise

Having spent more time on public transport than I would prefer to recently, I’m still startled at how badly people in Brussels drive.

I always thought it a good habit – one might say intelligent – not to drive into a crossroad when you can see that you won’t cross it (sic!) during the green light. Here, already driving schools drive into the cross road when the traffic light turns yellow (if not red) and thus block the traffic from the crossing road. Of course, drivers from that road will (have to) do the same just in order to get forward somehow. That life would be much  traffic would flow better if everybody would stop when a crossing isn’t possible in the first place, hasn’t not been understood.

But then again, it makes kind of a weird sense. Traffic light in this city have apparently not been built to guide the traffic but to obstruct it actively. The concept of the green wave – traffic lights turning green in a rhythm that allows cars to drive smoothly without stopping if driving at a certain speed (50 km/h) – is utterly unknown. Busses and more often than not, tramways are sharing a lane with the cars, blocking each other with amazing efficiency from advancing.

I can’t help but wonder if some of the so-called urban development in this city is only bad planning or intentionally bad. If it is meant to keep the cars out of the city, this much is sure, it clearly hasn’t worked.

Calculating

Brussels public transport is not the cleanest or most efficient ever. Still, it is probably not fair from me to be swearing at it when, coming from a friend late at night, I have to wait 15 minutes for a tram. I should have looked up when trams are running on the Internet.

However, while I was waiting, I was trying to figure out how high my chances were of not having to wait more than 10 minutes when arriving at a stop without knowing when a tram is coming but considering that trams run every 20 minutes.

Anybody?

Forgiveness is great and everybody makes a mistake once. But it’s by making the same mistake two days in a rowe, you assure that people will remember it AND take you for a ***** stupid idiot.

Taxis

One of the cheapest ways to get transport in and around Cape Town (except walking and highly dangerous cycling) is to use taxis. First thing to know: we do not speak about the European kind of taxis you call and than you pay a fare per kilometer. Taxis are minibuses usually made to transport between 14 and 16 seated passengers.

Taxi

These figures are more theory than reality because I’ve been in taxis with 20 people and heard about worse.After some breathtaking experiences, I can say that, except all, it is pretty safe to take a taxi (safe by South African standards). Exceptions are: the poor condition some taxis are in and the way most drivers try to get their costumers in the quickest way from point A to point B.

First aspect: I saw and drove in taxis which were more rust on wheels than cars. I was especially impressed by a taxi I took in Langa. How this car was still moving is an enigma to me. Unfortunately, I could not find photos on the Internet showing this kind of taxis.

Second aspect: Drivers have a licence to drive badly or how a friend put it: to kill. I had some breath taking experience while sitting on the front seat in the morning rush hour. Taxi drivers drive where and how they want to drive. I had one driving on the pedestrian walk using the horn to get pedestrians out of the way. Note to everybody who wants to come to SA: as pedestrian you are better prepared to jump when a car comes fast in your direction. You are pregnant, on crutches, in a wheel chair?  That does not matter, you better jump. No kidding.

Taxi rank

Taxi ranks are mostly part of this places in South Africa (ok, I can only speak about Cape Town) where you hardly see white faces. Blacks and coloureds yes, but very few white faces. The inconvenience is that I always feel uncomfortable the way some people stare at me. The advantage is that people sometimes take care of me, asking me where I come from, how I like SA, if somebody picks me up at the taxi rank, and so on.

You can take taxi at a taxi rank, stop them by waving your finger. You have to know where to get of except if you go to the terminus. To pay the taxi, you give the required amount of money (usually between 4 and 8 R) to the guy or the woman sitting next to you. If you do not have the matching amount, the change comes back to you in a fascinating way I am too lazy not able to describe. That’s definitely something to experience on your own.

Ok, that post is much longer than I wanted it initially to be. But now it is written, so you have to read it. 😉

Original images from here. The site gives a good review of housing in townships, too.