Commuting using public transport can be a mission and exhausting. However, in cities like Johannesburg, commuting using a minibus taxi can be far worse because of the strict, unspoken rules you’re supposed to adhere to. If you’re not familiar with the taxi industry and how you should behave when using a taxi to make your way around this busy city, then here are few dos and don’ts you should always keep in mind before entering a taxi.
1. Check with your driver/marshall about where you are going before getting into the taxi
If you are going somewhere but you’re not sure where to get taxis to your destination, make sure you make use of the taxi marshalls at the rank and ask for help. If you are not sure of the area you are traveling to, the best thing to do is tell the taxi driver prior to getting in the taxi. If you don’t do this, and decide to ask when you’re inside your taxi, this usually annoys the drivers and they could possibly tell you they’re also not sure of the area you’re going to, which could lead to you getting lost.
2. Do not bang the taxi’s doors
No matter if the doors look like they could fall of at any given time, make sure you are as gentle as you can be with closing the taxi’s door, or else the driver will make you do it until you get it right. This means you’ll be delaying other passengers from arriving at their destinations and you will also get a lot of flack from them too. Most will tell you “Mcenge nje ngomntwana” which means be gentle to the door like you’re handling a baby. So make sure you always keep that in mind when you have to close the door.
3. There’s no avoiding the front or backseat
We know taxi maths can be very confusing and we also know how suffocating it is being squashed at the backseat, however with most taxi drivers it may be difficult to avoid these two seats, especially if there is a queue involved. If you do try to avoid the front or back seat, you will not be allowed to sit in any other seat in the taxi, and you’ll be forced to wait for another one. So if the taxi fare has that annoying 50 cents on the side, just suck it up and use your calculator.
4. Do not pay with a R100 or R200 note in the morning
Taxi ranks are not banks or shops that always have change. If you really want to get into the taxi, arrive on time, and avoid being scolded, you better make sure you have the exact amount or loose change to pay with. For some drivers, paying with a R50 note in the morning is pushing it.
5. Do not give passengers their change before you give the driver their money
Giving the taxi driver his “short money” (when someone hasn’t paid their full fare), after everyone has paid and received their change is the worst nightmare no one ever wants to face. You may be forced to pay the shortfall from your own pocket. So best thing to do is, collect all the money from the passengers, then before, anything else, you ask the driver how much they are meant to receive, give him his money then shout “CHANGE” then wait for the passengers to ask for change. Imagine fighting over short money after a long day from work or school?
6. Do not put your feet behind taxi driver’s seat
The part of the taxi just behind the driver and the two front passenger seats is not a place to rest your legs. If you do not want the driver to drop you off before you reach your destination, try to keep you feet to yourself as much as possible. (Editor’s note – if you are travelling with young children, you can seat them here at no extra charge. As this is the engine cover, they will burn their bottoms till they cry. A bitter childhood experience… 😭)
7. Do not wear earphones if you are sitting in the front seat
According to most taxi drivers, if you sit next to them and use your phone (unless you’re calculating taxi maths) or wearing earphones, it distracts them from focussing on their driving. Maybe because your texts and music lists appear on his windscreen.
So phones and earphones are a big no no in the front seat.
8. If you say ‘shot left’ then there’s no turning back
This goes back to making sure you know where you are going and know which turn to ask the driver to stop at. Because if you shout “after robots!” or “shot left!” and then realise it’s the wrong traffic light or turn, fam, you’re going to get off whether you like it or not.
9. Eat your KFC at home, not in the taxi
We all know the smell of KFC means people think we can smell their success. However, you will not let your success infiltrate the driver’s taxi or else you’ll most likely get kicked out. Wait until you get home if you want to have your Streetwise Two or Zinger Wings in peace.
10. There is a seating arrangement when sitting next to the driver
If you’re a woman sitting in front with your counterpart, the unfortunate news for you is that you most likely going to have to sit next to the driver because the driver won’t feel comfortable sitting next to a man when there is a woman who could sit next to him. Toxic masculinity at its finest.