Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Taxi Strike is Over!

... Well, that was the word this morning. There were no taxis about in Bellville, though, so PJ and I ended up walking to Bellville Station. Also, I thought it was fall here? Summer came back today, so more sunburn and sweating for me. YAYYY.

The taxi strike lasted two days, and got rather violent throughout Day One. So yesterday, PJ and I stayed home and didn’t risk travel.

What it’s all about: Each day an average of 14 million people travel by taxi, or a mini-bus, or a kombi. Taxis are privately owned, but the drivers are unionized, and they often try to negotiate with government about the industry’s regulations. This week’s taxi strike was about the impounding of taxis and delays in issuing operators permits.

And so, those 14 million people who need to get to work, to school, to the grocery store, to see loved ones... will have tough luck without the taxis.

What it’s like to depend on public transit during a taxi strike: Buses and trains usually run during a taxi strike, but sometimes striking taxi drivers target them, for example, throwing bricks through windows of Golden Arrow buses. When alternative forms of transportation run safely, they’re packed because commuters have fewer options. I experienced this first-hand on Monday.

Whenever I ride the subway in NYC I think of the animation for “Rhapsody in Blue” from Fantasia 2000, where all the commuters are so crushed together that you can hardly make individual people out—you just see their hands sticking up to hold onto something while the car moves.

Well, imagine that, only the train is aboveground. And there’s really no security around, so the doors of the train remain open while it moves. (And that’s a good thing—I was getting claustrophobic without ventilation). I was pressed against a wall pretty tightly, so that when the ride was over, my ribs hurt.

This phenomenon of too many people on a train is called The Crush. I’ve seen it before, but had never been a part of it until Monday.



    Wonder if that will work...


    Much better.. sorry!! :)

  3. Actually, they both work!

    And I just really think you'll love Cape Town. It'll remind you of home <3