Everyone drives in Johannesburg. There is basically no public transport. We collected a hire car upon arrival at the airport, and dropped it off before we departed.
Most of the large car hire companies have a depot at the airport, and the collections desks are all located in the ORTIA Multi Storey car park, opposite the Domestic Terminal Building. Here you will find desks for Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, and National, along with several smaller companies. To the rear of all the pickup offices is the car park, and there is an efficient system for collecting and dropping off your car.
We hired a car through Africarhire, who are agents for Hertz. I chose them as they offered more comprehensive insurance cover than most of the other companies.
- Road Trip
Getting to Johannesburg
We flew to Johannesburg with British Airways from London Heathrow. The flight took about 10.5 hours, and we flew overnight, both there and back. This proved to be a great decision as we did manage to get some sleep on the plane, plus saved on accommodation costs!
The airport in Johannesburg is called O.R. Tambo International, and it is located 25km north-east of the city centre. We were impressed with the short queues that we encountered upon arrival, and also when we departed. There was a good range of decent quality shops at the airport and a few different dining options.
Once you have collected your luggage, be aware that there are plenty of 'friendly' locals wanting to help you and offer directions - they are not just doing it out of the kindness of their hearts, they want to be paid a little too...
When we arrived in Jo'burg we picked up a hire car at the airport. If you are not driving, or being collected by your hotel shuttle, you can catch a taxi, or brave one of the public shuttle bus options. There are airport-approved operators - follow the taxi and shuttle icons to the terminus, which is opposite International Arrivals (Terminal A).
- National/State Park
JNB station has been upgrade & I must say it looks kinda nice but its not very safe & I don`t recommend it for any tourist travelling around JNB.
I went to collect a family member of mine at JNB station on Wed 17 Nov 2004 and while looking for him there was 2 people there that was just robbed.
The guys stand at the door of the train , holding the door open with there feet. As the train departs the station they grab your goods and jump off the moving train just as it is about to leave the platform of the station.
My conclusion is that it is NOT a good idea to travel by train in JNB.
Jo'burg confirms World Cup transport arrangements
At last the Jo'burg municipality has confirmed the public transport arrangements for Soccer World Cup! About time too, but at least we now have something concrete to work with for planning purposes.
The details are complex, so I suggest that you peruse the website link below.
I have cut and pasted the introductory section on the public transport arrangements for World Cup games from this website - follow the link for specific details on components of the transport system that are relevant to you (and keep checking the website for updates):
"Public transport will be the best way to travel for residents and visitors to Johannesburg during the coming 2010 World Cup Tournament.
"The following options will be available to residents and visitors travelling to the stadium on the designated match days. Spectators should be aware of the fact that no private vehicles will be allowed within the stadium precincts and only people with valid, official tickets for the match will be admitted to the immediate surrounding areas.
"Park and Rides are designated areas around the City that are available for you to safely park your car for a fee and safely catch a shuttle service provided by the City to the stadium to watch your game. This shuttle service will also transport you safely back to the Park and Ride.
"Park and Walks are designated areas near the stadiums that are available for you to safely park your car for a fee, that is close enough for you to able to easily follow the signage and walk to the stadiums and back on match days.
"Services running in between cities outside Gauteng will be transporting fans from other Cities and Towns around South Africa into Johannesburg to either Sandton Metrobus Transport Hub or to Westgate Transport Hub where they will be able to catch either Rea Vaya BRT or MetroRail to the game
"The Westgate and Sandton MetrobusTransport Hub is where various modes of public transport will be converging. InterCity and in between cities outside Gauteng buses will drop fans at the Westgate Transport Hub. From the Westgate Transport Hub fans can catch Rea Vaya BRT or MetroRail straight to the stadiums.
"MetroRail is a commuter train service. It will be transporting fans to the stadiums on match days, using several selected rail lines. Additional trains will be used for the fans to get around as well as commuters.
"Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is the City’s brand new bus service. It runs a service between Soweto and Johannesburg. It passes both Soccer City and Ellis Park. During the World Cup, spectators can catch the Rea Vaya from any Rea Vaya Station to the Soccer Stadiums. "
Read more: http://www.joburg.org.za/content/view/5135/168/1/1/#ixzz0n8Ea2aSd
Metro Bus Services
Well if you looking to take a bus to and around Johannesburg then I would recommend taking a metro bus. During peak hours there is many buses. Anytime between the peak hours the buses is quiet slow and I think they come around every hour.
Good services to use if you an expat living in JNB.
- Road Trip
OR Tambo - Sandton rail link opens 8 June 2010!
Good news - Gautrain have confirmed that the rapid rail link between Sandton and OR Tambo international airport will open on 8 June 2010 - just in time for the World Cup!
The pricing is not yet confirmed, but it will certainly be a quicker and cheaper way of getting between the airport and the Sandton CBD (where most of the international standard hotels in Johannesburg are located), as well as avoiding the roadworks.
Can't quite decide whether opening a brand new rail link less than a week before the biggest sporting event that this country has ever known is either extremely brave or certifiably mad - probably a bit of both! If nothing else, it goes to prove that we Jo'burgers are nothing if not brave ...
Suggest that you hire a GPS with your car
It is important to note that hire cars in South Africa generally do not come with maps or streetfinder atlases, and few hire companies are willing to lend these out (presumably as these have not been returned in the past?).
In general, South African cities are not well signposted, and the confusion is compounded where roads have been renamed to reflect the new political order, which the maps may not yet reflect (navigating around central Durban is particularly nighmarish at the moment for this reason).
Tourists are especially vulnerable when they are lost and either pull off to try and work out where they are, or stop to ask for directions. I would therefore strongly recommend hiring a GPS with the car (all reputable hire companies should offer this, but be sure to specify at the time of booking as they may not have enough units to satisfy demand) - for a very small additional amount, you are making a major investment in your own security.
If you have to ask for directions, I suggest that you pull into a petrol station and ask either the petrol attendents - or even better - local motorists. I can't guarantee that they will give you good directions, but at least they are well lit and secure locations where you will be less vulnerable.
- Road Trip
Well this is a luxury train which travels between Pretoria and Cape Town but you can board it in Johannesburg. This train travels through the scenic parts of South Africa which is a excellent way of travelling knowing that its luxurious.
- Family Travel
Confirmation of feeder bus routes for Gautrain
Halleluia, the full Gautrain network will open on 1 July 2011 (see tips above)! Equally interestingly for the traveller, the routes for the feeder buses linking to each of the Gautrain stations have been confirmed, several of which are potentially useful for the tourist travelling between the stations and various tourist attractions that could previously only have been reached by car or taxi.
Consult the excellent website link below for maps providing detail on the feeder bus route associated with each of the stations (including those in Midrand and Pretoria), but the following are routes that could be potentially interesting to tourists in Johannesburg.
From Park Station in central Johannesburg, there are two circular routes that provide limited coverage of the CBD. These are designed to meet the needs of commuters and are unfortunately these are of limited use to people wanting to visit the major tourist attractions in the central Johannesburg area (especially the Apartheid Museum and Gold Reef City which are a few kilometres south of the CBD) and you'd be better off using the Rea Vaya bus system when it comes into operation (the date of this service commencing is unconfirmed at the time of writing in May 2011). Attractions in Newtown and Constitution Hill/the Women's Prison are probably easier to reach on foot or by metered taxi.
From Rosebank station, the RB1 service will take you south on Jan Smuts Avenue and would be useful for those visiting the Zoo Lake park (to the west of Jan Smuts) and the Zoo itself (which is on the eastern side of Jan Smuts). The RB2 service will take you to Melrose Arch, an upmarket office and shopping complex with some commensurately upmarket restaurants - very much a 'place to be seen' (and thus, not really my cup of tea), but much beloved by more fashionable members of society than myself. And don't forget Rosebank Mall itself, which is an excellent shopping centre with a great selection of restaurants and two wonderful cinema complexes and is just over the road from the station itself.
From Sandton station, probably the most useful feeder bus for the tourists is the S5 to Fourways, which passes close to the Montecasino entertainment complex - it's hard to miss the startlingly conspicuous fake Tuscan village which houses this! The Fourways Mall itself is a couple fo kilometres further on and is a good but unremarkable suburban shopping mall, and probably isn't worth the journey, especially as the more extensive Sandton City shopping mall (and adjacent Nelson Mandela Square) offer a wider range of shops and restaurants (both Sandton City and the Fourways Mall have good cinema complexes). Sandton City is a couple of minutes walk from the Sandton station.
The fares for the feeder buses in 2011 are R6 per trip (if the train and bus are used within a hour of each other) and R20 per trip if not. Be warned that Gautrain (and its related services, including parking and feeder buses) work on a smart card system which you'll need to purchase at a station, as the buses will not accept cash. There is a one off purchase fee (currently R10) for issuing of the smart card.
Finally, note that the bus services only run on weekdays, not weekends or public holidays. On weekdays, that the buses only run during the period when the trains operate. There has been some discussion about extending the operating hours, but at present, Gautrain operates between 05:30 in the morning and 20:30 in the evening, so be sure not to rely on the feeder buses after early evening. Buses run every 12 minutes in peak periods and every 20 minutes in off peak periods.
If you are at a bus stop and want to know when the next bus is due, you can call 010 223 1098 - just be aware that you will have to provide the number of the bus route (for example, S5) and the number of the bus stop.
Left luggage facility at OR Tambo airport
To the relief of travellers who are passing through Johannesburg for a short period on business or pleasure, but don't necessarily want to lug all their baggage with them, consider using the left luggage facility at OR Tambo airport.
This facility is open between 06:00 and 22:00 and is hidden away by the escalators which link the terminal buildings to the underground parking area. I have yet to see a sign indicating its presence (let alone location) so it's handy to know where to look!
The cost per item of luggage at the time of writing (June 2010) was R50 for the first day, and R40 for each day thereafter - a small price to pay for the freedom of not having to lug around unnecessary luggage!
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They have modern cars, loads of locations and couldn't be more helpful and friendly. I have used these people 2 times now for a total of 2 months. I have travelled all over South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland. When I have had an issue, twice, they answered the telephone after hours and helped me. When my car was accidentally damaged and not covered by insurance, they were very reasonable. Both my cars were new and were great on very bad roads. I highly recommend these folks! Twice I have flown into Jo'Burg airport and quickly driven out with one of their cars. Easy.
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- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Rates for Gautrain high speed rail link confirmed
Today the rates for the Gautrain high speed rail link from OR Tambo International airport were finally confirmed.
The cost will be R100 one way - if you are parking at the Sandton rail station, this rate is pegged at a maximum of R9.50 for the first 24 hours. This is much cheaper than a cost of a taxi + parking for a single person, although once you get up to a family of four, the costs begin to even out.
The journey will take about 15 minutes (currently about 45 minutes by road, even in light traffic, and much longer given the current roadworks and possible delays due to peak hour traffic and accidents).
The train service will operate from Monday to Sunday between 05:30 to 20:30 - note the early closing time. Trains will be available every 12 minutes during peak times (05:30 to 08:30 and 16:00 to 19:00), and every 20 minutes during off-peak times. On weekends the train service will be available every 30 minutes.
As is fitting for a city known as Egoli (the place of gold), the rolling stock will be decked out in gold and blue livery.
Service commences 8 June, which seems very optimistic - given that kickoff is only three days later, we'd better hope that they get their teething problems sorted out pretty quick!
Update (April 2011): As of 1 July 2011 - when then complete Gautrain network opens - the cost of a one way ticket from Sandton to the airport will increase to R105, with no discount for a return fare. Parking at Sandton station will increase to R10 per day (if Gautrain is used) and R80 per day if it is not. See my travel tip below for more detail on fares between the new stations that will open.
Well the station has been upgraded and looks quiet nice inside , you can get anything there from a train that goes around JHB and to other parts of the country as well as all the bus services to various parts of the countries.
There is quiet a bit of restaurants there so if you hungry it will not be a problem.
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
O R Tambo International airport: help is at hand!
I have known (and loathed) the international airport in Johannesburg since 1987. As a result, I have endured its dubious charms and quirks through two decades of endless building work (which seemingly never resulted in any great improvement) and the resultant chaos and confusion.
And, stone the crows, it's finally finished, and, what's even more extraordinary, it was worth the wait!!! Hell, there are even helpful ladies assigned to assist you (see photo) - is this really still the same place???
Gautrain running between Jo'burg and Pretoria!
After years of construction-related grief, the complete Gautrain system (with the exception of the sourthernmost section to Park Station in the Johannesburg CBD) is finally up and running! No problems have been reported in the first day of operation, and it is hugely encouraging to see such huge numbers of people turning out to 'test drive' Our Train, the Gautrain!
Please see my earlier transport tips for more details on operating hours, costs, routes and associated bus services.
It has been announced that a bus service will be introduced between Rosebank and Park Station until engineering work has been completed which will allow this final section of the network is commissioned. Note that at the time of writing (3 August 2011), this bus service had not yet been introduced, but indications are that it will commence "within a few weeks". As ever, watch this space ...
Update (April 2012): Trials are currently being conducted on the stretch between Rosebank and Park Station, and indications are that this final section of the Gautrain network will be commissioned some time in May 2012, provided that the outstanding authorisations can be secured.
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