Commuters face the daily slog of getting to work on time while having to contend with road rage and exhaust fumes. Jasmine asks whether it is worth making the switch to the often unreliable public transport system?
I was horrified as I listened to yesterday's radio reports that thousands of Cape Town rail commuters had been left stranded after apparent sabotage to signalling cables caused operator Metrorail to cancel all trains leaving the central station.
Yes, traffic volumes are up in all major cities around South Africa and, more than ever, commuters are encouraged to use the under-utilised public transport system as an alternative to the packed thoroughfares. But using yesterday's situation as an example, I don't see how the authorities are going to swing this one, considering the services are used as widely as certain officials would like them to be, mainly because they are often unreliable, and unsafe into the bargain.
I know of many people who would gladly pack their weekday steering wheels and daily traffic grind away in favour of a leisurely trip to work aboard a train (or a bus even). If it means arriving at work without the haggard look of someone flung from a running skirmish in some war-torn area, with little or no chance of survival, then I'm all for it too!
But an inadequate public transport system basically dictates that people who own or use motor vehicles have to stick them on the road and grit their collective teeth while tackling the one-hour drive that would, under ordinary free-flowing conditions, take just under ten minutes to complete.
Luckily for some, the time can be used to paint their toenails, take a quick shave, deliver a prompt scolding or touch up the makeup, while cursing at the flexi-time gods for bestowing more rotten luck. Another stickler is that, instead of the roads being choked-up at certain times of the day, they are now congested almost all of the time. This has forced more people to discover your "secret" back street routes (which until now have been fairly closely-guarded) to avoid the especially hairy traffic bits.
More often than not, when finding myself in these situations, I slip into some soothing Chris Martin tunes and picture myself as a big happy yellow blimp, floating high above the traffic, watching the world go by from my custom-made recliner...
Until the incessant hooting emanating from the white BMW 318i hag-mobile behind me summons a rude awakening, urging me to slot into the three centimetre space vacated by the (now-crawling) car ahead of me. In a good mood, I stick on my best grin and fling some choice signals out of my window instead, wishing that Jezebel would choke on a prime mix of exhaust fumes. Trade my aching rear and increased blood pressure for a leisurely train ride? No way! Long live traffic jams!