Alternative public transport services a growing market in S.Africa - CNBC Africa

Alternative public transport services a growing market in S.Africa

Southern Africa

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Public transport vehicles on the roadside

Shesha Tuks is one of the transport services around the Sandton central business district (CBD) that provides short haul services with their two-passenger tuk tuks, or auto-rickshaws.

“The tuk tuk is used around the world as a transportation method, so it’s nothing unique but certainly in the South African environment it’s quite a unique product or transport offering. We really identified the niche market with a short haul service,” Neil McWilliams from Shesha Tuks told CNBC Africa on Tuesday.

“Nothing was really servicing the adequately the five kilometre radius within the Sandton CBD and obviously the tut tuk, being such a unique vehicle, offered quite a unique, nice marketing angle for corporates or a brand awareness vehicle.”

RhodeTrip, which is based in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, has also begun to fill a gap in the market, and is geared particularly towards preventing drunk driving. The company also provides long haul services in Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban.  

“We’re a membership-based chauffeur service. We have other shuttle services as well, but the main service that we offer are chauffer services whereby one can become a member of our service and then call us and be driven home in their own vehicle,” said Matthew Slater, managing director of Rhode Trip.

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There are however strategic problems to providing such services, especially as other public transport services like taxis and buses have been providing the transportation demand for a longer period of time.

The national government infrastructure plan, which was adopted last year, aims to address social and economic infrastructure needs across the country, and transport is a crucial component of it.

“We’re not in direct competition with the commuter taxis as such, it’s a complete different market. We operate more along the 25 to 35 rand fare. Where we did find a bit of resistance when we launched was from the metred taxis,” said McWilliams.

“They saw the Gautrain take away their long haul service from the airport, and now they’ve kind of seen us as a threat in their short haul service. There was a bit of resistance but we’ve worked together with them and the Metro cops so everybody’s happy for the moment.”

Access to public transport services and facilities will need to be improved and made more available as the country grows.

“I think that through more players like ourselves, we are eventually going to get to the point where there’s going to be multiple solutions in order to get from A to B, but I do believe at the moment a service like ours is essential to have,” said Slater. 

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