The 8th of June 2010 will go down in the annals of South African history as the day that the Gautrain started operations. The rapid rail link started operating yesterday between OR Tambo International Airport and Sandton in Johannesburg. According to reports in the media between 9,000 and 11,000 passengers used this service on the first day.
However, yesterday morning started with some delays due to long queues and a few glitches in the ticketing system. According to a communications officer for the Bombela Operating Company this was due to a backlog on the new system caused by the early rush of commuters who had hoped to be on the first train (which left the station at 5:24 AM). However, the first train left Sandton station on schedule and by 6 AM everything was running smoothly.
According to a study done by Eyewitness News the Gautrain is the most cost effective way for Johannesburg commuters to travel to OR Tambo airport from Sandton. It costs an average of R350 to get from Sandton to OR Tambo Airport using either a shuttle service, bus or taxi. Thanks to the Gautrain, a commuter can now catch one of the network’s buses from Sandton to the nearest station for R20 and take a trip to the airport on the train for R100. There are also a huge difference in the price of parking. Parking your car costs R135 per 24 hours at OR Tambo International airport. You will only need to fork out R29 for parking at any of the Gautrain stations if you use the OR Tambo Airport link.
Commuters who travel shorter distances on the Gautrain do pay less for tickets though. One Gautrain commuter bought a return ticket from Rhodesfield station to Sandton station, paid for a day’s parking for his vehicle and also bought tickets for 2 bus trips (to get to and from the station) and it only cost him R63.50 in total.
This definately sounds like something worthy of checking out, even if you’re not a fan of trains. Passenger volumes are expected to increase as the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament runs it course through June and July of this year. The Gautrain will definately have an impact on the way that people commute in Gauteng. The full impact of the network will only be seen once the Gautrain route to Pretoria is operational in 2011.
This TV advert promoting the Gautrain was released earlier in this week: