Gauteng: Paratransit—Perpetual Pain or Potent Potential?

  • Johan W. Joubert
Part of the Lecture Notes in Mobility book series (LNMOB)


South Africa is nearly 20 years into its democracy, yet the legacy of apartheid remains evident and the level of inequality steadily rising. Gauteng province, the economic heart of the country that includes Johannesburg and Tshwane, the capital, carries the burden of many of its formerly relocated citizens still living in poverty on the periphery of the large metropolitan areas. Whereas sprawl is commonly associated with low-density, more affluent development on the periphery, Gauteng finds itself with having to provide basic services and mobility to high density, low-income people on its outskirts. The mobility culture in Gauteng is heavily influenced by the socioeconomic disparity. In this chapter we revisit the legislative context that gave rise to racial segregation, and concern ourselves with the impact it had in the evolution of the now-dominant paratransit mode that accounts for more than two thirds of all commuter trips in Gauteng. Although often cited in literature and the media for its violent sectarian conflicts, the minibus taxis, as it is commonly referred to, is much more than a mere mode of transport. Outsiders often perceive the taxi industry to be a chaotic system, but it has evolved into a powerful economic industry with a unique mobility culture, most notably the hand signals—a silent gestural semiotic language in its own right—used by commuters to communicate their desired destinations to passing taxis. Aware of the rising inequality, and not fully understanding or appreciating the exibility it provides, government often perceives paratransit as a necessary nuisance that should be formalised. Improving mobility and accessibility, however, requires both settlement location and transport to be revisited. As such, paratransit may prove to a valuable solution, and not the mere nuisance it is often made out to be.


Public Transport Taxi Driver African National Congress Operating Licence Hand Signal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johan W. Joubert
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PretoriaHatfieldSouth Africa

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