Minibuses of Johannesburg

The City of Johannesburg has posted this quick overview of minibus taxis, the city’s most prevalent public transit mode. In part:

Some of the taxis are rickety affairs, held together only by their owners’ prayers and the Grace of God. They look more like old car parts assembled in a hurry. Many however, are roadworthy and reasonably comfortable.

The success of any taxi driver depends on the number of passengers he can ferry on any given day. To maximize profit, drivers often overload their vehicles, drive at high speed and stop without warning on awkward spots to pick up passengers, much to the annoyance of other motorists. Rules of the road are suspended as drivers compete for the bottom line. Passengers are sometimes treated to the spectacle of two taxis driving dangerously close to each other as one driver asks for change from another. This recklessness has not endeared taxi drivers to law enforcement agencies. Johannesburg’s newly established Metro Police Service has cracked down on unroadworthy taxis and gone to the extent of impounding some. These tough measures have helped restore a semblance of order to the industry.

The same page also has a guide to the fourteen most common hand signals one needs to flag down a taxi in Jo’burg. Unlike in Cape Town, minibuses in Jo’burg generally don’t follow fixed route numbers. Instead, waiting passengers must use the appropriate hand signal until a driver who can conveniently stop at the indicated destination picks them up them. If, for example, you want to travel to Orange Farm, hold out a hand and rotate it like you’re showing off an orange.

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