Why I ditched the Gautrain and drive to OR Tambo airport instead

Traveling by Gautrain between Johannesburg and Pretoria is convenient.

Parking and traffic are not concerns, and you can work or make a phone call while travelling.

Several times this year, Google Maps warned me of massive traffic problems on the N1 or M1 while on my way to a meeting, which saw me heading to the nearest Gautrain station.

Provided you and your destination are near a station or bus route, using the Gautrain can be much quicker than driving – even without traffic.

When it comes to using the Gautrain’s airport service, however, tickets are so expensive that I have to think twice before using the train.

Gautrain ticket prices to OR Tambo international airport

Traveling to OR Tambo with the Gautrain is much more expensive than its regular commuter service.

Rhodesfield is the station just outside the airport, and its fares are included in the table for comparison.

To/From Rhodesfield – Off-peak Rhodesfield – Peak Rhodesfield – High-peak OR Tambo
Rhodesfield R151
Park R31 R39 R162
Rosebank R30 R37 R162
Sandton R28 R35 R151
Marlboro R22 R28 R151
Midrand R30 R37 R41 R162
Centurion R44 R55 R51 R174
Pretoria R50 R62 R69 R174
Hatfield R52 R65 R72 R174

Parking fares

Another factor to consider is the price of parking at OR Tambo versus a Gautrain station.

The tables below show that parking at Gautrain stations is much cheaper than at the airport.

Long-term parking fares: OR Tambo
Period Initial Units Recurring Units
ORT P4 long stay carports R75.00 0-24 hours R37.00 per 12 hours
ORT P5 shaded parking R85.00 0-24 hours R42.00 per 12 hours
ORT P6 shaded parking R70.00 0-24 hours R35.00 per 12 hours
PRT P9 Super South gate R50.00 0-24 hours R42.00 per 12 hours
Gautrain Parking
Parking Period Rail User Non-Rail User
0-15min Free Free
15min-1hr R15 R15
1hr-24hr R20 R100
Two days R60 R200
Three days R120 R300
Four days R180 R400
Five days R220 R500
Six days R260 R600
Seven days R300 R700
Eight days R340 R800
Nine days R380 R900
Ten days R420 R1,000
More than ten days R420 plus R100 for every extra day, except Marlboro and Sandton – R40 a day for days 11 to 15, R1,000 plus R100 for every extra day R1,000 plus R100 for every extra day

OR Tambo parking map

How much cheaper it is to drive to the airport than take a Gautrain

Despite parking at the Gautrain being much cheaper than at OR Tambo, the expensive ticket price for the train means that driving remains the cheaper option for me.

Using a Mazda 3 sedan and the AA’s calculations for running costs based on a petrol price of R13.07 per litre (93 reef price), the comparison below details the pricing difference.

If just the petrol price and average fuel efficiency of the Mazda 3 were used, the travel costs would be even cheaper.

Fixed costs for the car such as insurance and licensing were excluded from the comparison.

To OR Tambo Gautrain – from Pretoria Mazda 3 – AA rates
Travel (2-way) R348.00 R120.96
Parking (5 days) R220.00 R371.00
Total R568.00 R491.96

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Why I ditched the Gautrain and drive to OR Tambo airport instead