Now taxi industry goes upmarket

The taxi industry has decided to go upmarket in order to compete with the Gautrain.

The Gautrain or Shilowa Express will take care of northern suburbs commuters to Pretoria. Right now Joburg is in shambles because streets and buildings are being pulled down to make way for this speed queen.

These days you can get lost in town trying to navigate the streets that have been closed due to construction. The Gautrain will travel mostly underground and occasionally come up for air and a bit of sightseeing before reaching the Jacaranda City.

I have heard that it will be a feather in Joburg's cap and will show the Germans when they come down for the World Cup that we too can do it. I do not know how much of a snook we can cock since all the machines and engineers are from Europe.

Paul Mashatile did try to get us our own Gautrain from Soweto to Jozi, but Shilowa and Jeff Radebe poured cold water on his scheme.

Mashatile's was a rather fanciful plan, with trains floating over others and winding their way through the sky above the city.

We wondered if the trains would not collapse or fall down right in the middle of town. We were not sure if it would not affect our high-high and how the grannies would be able to climb into the train in the sky. Anyway it was good for a laugh.

Now the taxi industry has begun upgrading their services for the 2010 festival. Apparently, passengers to Pretoria can now buy their weekly tickets from a corner counter next to Pep Stores in Jozi.

Progress has come to the taxi industry, which is gearing up to the level of the old Stimela sase Zola.

I heard some time ago that the taxi bosses had gone to Korea, or was it Malaysia or Singapore, on a fact-finding mission - just like our MPs are fond of doing. It is now obvious what they found in that country - taxi coupons.

They have introduced a new fare system which is being tried out on the main Pretoria route. One can now buy a weekly or daily ticket which comes in a certain colour. A single ticket, which costs R20, is red.

The new scheme has generated employment as the association has hired people who know how to scan the tickets on specially mounted machines.

Alas, once back in Pretoria, the old four-four, seat by seat fare collection comes into play again. Commuters say they are happy with this idea although they grumble that a discount would be a good customer care smoothie.

I wonder how this system will work on the East Rand. The taxi routes are chopped into bits and pieces. One needs three to four taxis to travel 20km.

Does this mean that one will have to buy four differently coloured coupons from, say, Zonkizizwe to Germiston, to Joburg, and the last one to Randburg?

We will wait for another upgrade, hopefully before 2010.