Some frustrated long-distance bus commuters are concerned about their Easter weekend travel plans. Some bus companies are experiencing major delays.
As scores of people are exiting the province ahead of the long weekend, there is a heavy police presence on the roads and this is believed to be the cause of the delays as Easter road safety campaigns kick off in some parts of the country.
Commuters at Park Station unhappy with transport delays:
Last year at this time, the country was in a hard lockdown. Travel was banned – today, a veritable turnabout.
Johannesburg Park Station officials say the early morning was characterised by a flood of commuters. But there were numerous delays.
“We arrived here at 6am this morning and purchased our bus tickets. They told us the bus will leave the station at 8:50. Around 9 this morning, a security guard arrived and told us that the bus has been delayed and will leave at 1 o’clock this afternoon. When they try to make contact with the manager of the bus network, their phone is unanswered,” says one commuter.
“Apparently there are no buses, we not sure whether the buses will come. People are asking for refunds but they are refusing to give us our money back,” says another commuter.
The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) says they have not experienced challenges.
Prasa’s Acting General Manager for Corporate Affairs, Bane Ndlovu, says, “I’ve been advised by my colleagues that at Park Station that things are a bit calm even though it is a bit congested. People are able to observe the protocols of COVID-19.”
A stone’s throw away, those who prefer to use the faster and cheaper mode of transport shared their observations this Easter weekend.
“In the taxis, everything is fine. Everyone wears a mask and they do what the government says we must do.”
Wanderers Taxi Rank Acting Manager, Mashoka Phalane says, “Really, to speak the holy truth, it doesn’t seem like before. On such occasions, we used to load a lot of people. We are affected by the Zion Christian Church. People are not travelling to the church or the urban areas because they fear the coronavirus.”
High traffic volumes are expected this Sunday and Monday as people prepare to return to work.
However many South Africans say they are happy that they’ve been allowed to travel this Easter – despite the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
Some say they are worried about buses and taxis not observing COVID-19 protocols.
Long queues have formed at taxi ranks and bus stations at Park station in Johannesburg as thousands of people leave Gauteng to be with their loved ones over the Easter long weekend.
Shortage of buses
Commuters being told that their bus to Maritzburg has been delayed. A woman who arrived at Park Station this morning is livid. “There are no buses they said there’ll be more buses. there are only two buses from here to Kimberley.”
Another man boarded a bus from Kimberley to Joburg this morning and says that the shortage of buses has led to the overloading of passengers. “The bus was full. There was no social distance, no sanitizing, it’s just as normal. That’s one of the concerns.”
Chaos erupted when a group of commuters, who waited for hours for a bus, demanded a refund. “This is unacceptable, don’t gamble with us.”
Many are happy for the chance to travel to loved ones.
Long delays for commuters awaiting transport out of Gauteng for the long weekend:
-Additional reporting by Tshepo Phagane