Like most of us, I was stuck in traffic on my morning commute. Between tapping the steering wheel and staring into space, I noticed how many cars around me have just one person in them. At about the same time, a minibus taxi came buzzing along in the emergency lane. I could see the anger in the few faces around me, but really, if one thinks about it, those 16 people in that taxi also have a job to get to on time.
Traffic is slowly eating up South African roads as well as our valuable time. For some poor souls in the dense areas of Johannesburg, a two hour commute to and from work is not unheard of. The bad news is that due to the general lack of public transport, curbing this issue will prove difficult as there are just more and more cars on the road.
Added to this is the rising cost of fuel. In fact, the South African Petroleum Retailers’ Association suggests we may be paying R14 per litre by next year, which is sure to put an even bigger dent in our pockets.
How can we solve this? Well, something that could alleviate traffic and save us money, to some degree, is carpooling. Carpooling was first introduced in the US during World War Two as a rationing tactic. The idea is sound: You share a ride with someone driving to the same location. It lowers fuel costs, reduces the cars on the road and is more environmentally friendly.
A quick internet search lead me to a number of carpooling websites in South Africa. While none of them are particularly eye catching, they are being used. One such site, Carpoolking.com, has over 8000 listings and nearly 15000 registered users. There are also many carpools advertised on the ever popular Gumtree.
So let’s get back to that taxi driving on the yellow line. While it may be illegal and make a lot of people angry, that’s potentially 16 less cars on the road. Imagine half the people at your workplace carpooled, that would be even more cars off the road. Ask around, your colleague might live in the same road as you. And unless you’re running the eTolls, the less cars on the road, the better.