I tried the Gautrain to save time and money — with mixed results

Using the Gautrain instead of my car to get to work was a logical choice to save me time and money, but it went wrong after a bus strike disrupted my daily commute.

The Gautrain operates a North-South line between Hatfield in Pretoria and Johannesburg Park station, with six other stops along the way.

Each stop has busses that pick up and drop off Gautrain users across Johannesburg and Pretoria.

With the recent increase in fuel prices, I decided to see if using the Gautrain to commute to work would be a viable alternative that could save me money.

My typical commute starts in Hatfield in Pretoria and follows the N1 highway south before arriving at the office in Irene, 24.5 km away.

Depending on the traffic, it usually takes between 30 minutes and an hour.

It costs me more than R60 for the fuel one-way, which translates into R120 per day without accounting for the maintenance and running costs of the car.

The Gautrain station in Hatfield is within walking distance of my house. I can also ask a family member to drop me off, cycle, or drive there and park my car securely for R25 per day.

There is also a Gautrain midi-bus that stops about 500m from my house, which I can use for R10 per trip to get to the station.

A Gautrain ride from Hatfield to Centurion costs R39 during peak times when I commute.

A Gautrain bus drives from the Centurion station to my office, costing another R10 per trip.

It would cost R118 per day if I use the midi-bus to get to the station and back, or R98 per day if I walk, cycle, or get dropped off at the station.

While this does not seem like much, it would save me R462 per month. It would also save on running costs for my car, and I would avoid driving in peak traffic.

Gautrain

On the first day of testing, everything worked perfectly. I decided to drive to the station and caught the 06:03 train as planned.

Upon arrival in Centurion, the bus was waiting by the door, and it drove straight to the office. I arrived around 06:45.

In the afternoon, the bus arrived on time, and the process was similar on the way back.

While this did not save me much money, it did save me the frustration of being stuck in traffic, as I could sit back and enjoy the ride.

The following day, things turned out differently.

Upon arrival in Centurion, there was an announcement on the PA system informing everyone that regular busses were not available, as there was a strike.

This meant I had to get an Uber to the office, which cost me R59 for a single trip. It destroyed any hope of saving money with this commute.

Getting an Uber was also challenging, as drivers had to pick up the slack from the busses.

While bus strikes affecting the Gautrain are not common, it highlights the drawbacks of relying on public transport in South Africa.


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I tried the Gautrain to save time and money — with mixed results