Today I attempted to be a fulltime commuter on the much lauded Gautrain.
The morning stretch went pretty well all things considered. However, it was not faster than driving my car, not once I factored in waiting for the train and then the infuriating 20 minute wait for the bus in peak time. Apparently, the promise of every 12 minutes is not worth the paper it is printed on. Lesson learnt, walk to work from the station.
As for price, for me alone it is pretty comparable and prevents me from having to go to useless meetings thanks to not having transport. Should a meeting be very important, do not rely on the Gautrain system to get you anywhere. Once the small fry are back at school the car is much cheaper, faster and reliable.
All things considered I was still pro-Gautrain when I got to work.
But that was all about to change…
I happily pottered down to by bus stop – Number 15 on RB4 – conveniently located at my office gates. There I found a fellow commuter. I engaged him conversation only to discover he had been there for 30 minutes – so much for the 12 minutes promised during peak hours. As we stood along came a bus a block away neatly avoiding the route altogether. And then another one. By then we were both on the phone to Gautrain operations to utterly no avail.
30 minutes later I caught a lift with a colleague, leaving the frustrated commuter at the bus stop. I did offer him a ride, but he was adamant to take the bus if it killed him. I eventually arrived at Marlboro and hour and a half after I had set out and not in a good mood. The Customer Care Line has an effective means of stopping complaints, they just hang up on you.
I laughed at my husband when he regaled me with how while waiting to collect me at the Marlboro Station he had asked if he could use the loo. The loo is inside the turnstile and to pay nearly fifty bucks to pee is a little steep. They refused and politely suggested he urinate outside the Station entrance. Charming. Customer Care answered his call and assured him steps would be taken. A week later they had no record of his call.
This is South Africa so I don’t expect first-world customer service, but I’d like to have some.
The Pretoria Station was closed this morning too; apparently some entrepreneur stole the power cables.
Welcome to Africa boys and girls, and don’t trade in your car just yet.