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Now that the Gautrain officially links Joburg and Pretoria thanks to yesterday’s opening of the Park Station link, is it quicker to travel the route by car or train?
Yesterday The Star pitted the two modes of transport against each other, travelling from The Star’s offices in the Joburg CBD to the Pretoria News offices in Vermeulen Street in peak-hour traffic.
Surprisingly, the car turned out to be slightly quicker than the bullet train.
It was, however, by default, because Botho Molosankwe, who travelled by train, got lost along the way and experienced some minor delays purchasing tickets and finding her way around the stations and bus routes. Molosankwe and colleague Anna Cox both left The Star building in Sauer Street at 7.30am. Molosankwe boarded a bus in Sauer Street at 7.37am and arrived at Park Station at 7.44am.
She bought her ticket for R49 at 7.46am and boarded at 7.48am. The train left one minute later.
By 8.08am Cox was in Midrand on the highway, while Molosankwe’s train was leaving the Midrand station.
A few minutes later the Gautrain arrived in Centurion at 8.16am, four minutes ahead of Cox.
Cox pulled up at her final destination – the Pretoria News – at 8.31am. Meanwhile Molosankwe arrived at the Pretoria station at 8.22am.
At 8.25am Molosankwe had to load money on to her Gautrain card for her bus trip – adding a few extra minutes to her time. She then had to find out information regarding which bus to catch from where, and eventually boarded the correct bus which departed at 8.31am.
She unfortunately got off at the wrong stop – adding even more time to her journey with an unnecessary 15-minute walk – arriving at 8.51am, 20 minutes behind Cox.
However, had Molosankwe been more familiar with the route and avoided the delays she experienced getting lost, such as asking for directions and information on tickets, and loading extra money, it is possible that she would have done the trip in the same time or possibly quicker than Cox did in a car.
The trip along the M1 highway, although at peak hour, was free-flowing this morning with only minor hiccups at the Grayston Drive and Jean Road off-ramps, where traffic slowed to stop and start.
Molosankwe, however, found the Gautrain procedures extremely easy, even for a first-timer.
“If I could, I would use the Gautrain all the time, because it’s fast, there’s no stopping at traffic lights, no hooting and no road rage and no having to look out for other road users and pedestrians stepping in front of you,” she said.
The public announcements on the train ensure that commuters get off at the right station and at the right time.
At Park Station there were few commuters as it was the first day of operations, but as the train moved through Rosebank and Sandton, it quickly filled up. Molosankwe observed that the newly opened Park Station was “like a different world”.
“Everything was so clean and neat and elegant. No noise and fumes from taxis and buses. I felt like I was in Europe, everything was so different,” she said. -The Star