Cheaper to go to Durban than to go home. What the hey?

It is cheaper for two people to travel from Johannesburg to Durban in a multimillion Rand aircraft than it is to get from Johannesburg International Airport (OR Tambo Airport if you want to pander to the ANC’s puerile lust for name-changing) to our home near Lanseria International Airport.

Kulula price from Johannesburg to Durban

From Jhb Airport to Home – 2 pax
From Jhb Airport to Durban – 2 pax
Gautrain to Sandton R100 x 2
R200
Kulula flight
Shuttle from Sandton to Home
R500
R269 x 2 pax
R538
Total
R700
R538
R162
More expensive to get home

What’s wrong with this picture? Ok, let’s be fair. Our journey also included the multimillion Rand Gautrain. However, the lion’s share of the cost was the astronomical R500 shuttle fare.

We had just returned our rented car and were wondering how best to get back home, when we decided to lash out on a train ride with the new Gautrain.

Gautrain leaving OR Tambo Airport Station

Since 1994, South African rail services have sunk into ignominy and infamy with hundreds of reports of murder, rape, arson and robbery being submitted every month. Even during the run-up to the Football World Cup, people were setting fire to coaches, carriages and locomotives. However, the Gautrain was touted as completely safe, punctual and user-friendly.

Arriving at the ticket offices, we found the staff friendly, courteous and efficient. Given the historical pattern of events in South Africa, we wondered how long this level of service will last. I’m not going to comment on this as time will provide the necessary evidence for those with long enough memories.

After shelling out R100 each for our ride (plus the obligatory one-off charge of R20 for our smart cards), we moved to the station. Even for someone with crutches, a suitable seat was found; although we wondered about a wheelchair bound person wanting to commute.

The ride was like any other train ride, but I can confirm that we travelled in total safety, were not spray painted nor were we set on fire by disgruntled union members. We did however note dozens of cameras keeping the Sharp Eye Of The Law focused on your activities – so don’t pick your nose and deposit it under the seat!

The train pulled into Sandton station approximately 15 minutes later and it was quite something to consider the tunnels through which we’d travelled, made by the German designed TBM’s or Tunnel Boring Machines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunnel_boring_machine).

Gautrain departing Sandton Station - taken with Nokia E90 phone

But the REAL pain happened when the shuttle cab dropped us off at home and I had the choice of paying the cabbie or say, killing the cabbie and settling Zimbabwe’s national debt. Honour won the day and I reached deep into the sporran and bid a tearful farewell to five one hundred Rand notes.

So we’re agreed, R700 to get home from Tambo Airport is ludicrous. I think I’ll go to Durban instead. Anyone got an idea how I can get to the airport?

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About Freud Fission Chips

Despite the banality of the name, FFC has led an intensely varied life. Grateful for surviving almost three years as a 'troepie' (soldier for non-South African Readers) in the Angolan war, he determined to wring as much out of life as possible. Currently providing Business Analysis services, trading on the stock market and developing web pages to pay the bills, FFC also dabbles in wildlife, landscape and people photography, writing, and far too many interests for his own good. He has also travelled extensively in southern Africa (working on the sound theory that a moving target is more dificult to hit). These peregrinations also include over 1500kms on foot through some of the worlds most spectacular scenery. It hasn't all been plain sailing, beer and skittles, and endless beds of roses... Chief amongst the prerequisites for surviving Africa, with its mind-bending characteristics, is an appropriate sense of humour.... So, for now, he will be recounting the amusing among the annoying, the frustrating wrapped in the funny and extracting the mirth from the melancholy... Oh yes, there might be some alliteration too.
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3 Responses to Cheaper to go to Durban than to go home. What the hey?

  1. Flash EC says:

    The prices seem insane! As a matter of interest, how much is the paid parking at OR Tambo if you were to drive to the airport and park your car there?

    • Hi Flash,

      Prices have been fluctuating over the football insanity – but my last check (about a month prior to the World Cup) was that the parking fee was about R95 per day.

      I will check what the latest is and let you know.

  2. Hi Flash,

    If you go to http://www.acsa.co.za/home.asp?pid=3637 you can calculate parking rates for specific parkades. As an exercise I selected Parkade #2 and it quoted me R135 for a 24 hour period.

    However, check the following sites for alternatives
    http://www.airportparkingsite.co.za/?gclid=CLKXg8bh96MCFYHu7QodbTTXHA
    http://www.suparking.co.za/
    http://www.purplespot.co.za/

    Hope this helps.

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