How much it costs South Africans to get to work

Statistics South Africa has published its National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), detailing how much time South African workers spend in traffic and how much transport costs each month.

The report shows that more than one-third (34.2%) of the country’s 16.6 million workers reside in Gauteng, 15.6% reside in KwaZulu-Natal and 14.4% in the Western Cape.

The majority of the working population works five days per week. Nationally, 62% workers worked five days a week, followed by 24.1% who worked six days plus and 13.8% worked one to four days a week.

Travel costs 

The data shows that travel costs were the highest for those who travelled by car/bakkie/truck (R2,180) as their mode of travel, as opposed to taxi users (R960), using a car/bakkie/truck as a passenger (R990) and bus users (R745).

Travelling by train was the least expensive mode of travel, with a mean of R581.

Across all modes of transport, workers’ average travel cost has increased between 2013 and 2020.  The highest increase is observed among those who used cars as drivers, to reach their destinations.

Among public transport modes, taxis appeared to be the most expensive public transport mode of travel for workers, with average monthly travel costs of R960, followed by buses (R745) and trains (R581).

Up early

29.8% of South Africa’s workers left their home for work between 07h00 and 07:h59 in the morning.

The Eastern Cape (44%), Free State (38.8%) and Northern Cape (36.4%) recorded the highest percentages of workers leaving their homes/residential places between 07:00 and 07:59 in the morning.

24.5% left for work before 06:00 in the morning. Provincially, Mpumalanga (33.4%), Gauteng (27.6%) and North West (26.4%) had the highest proportion of workers leaving for work before 06h00 in the morning.

Eastern Cape, with only 17,=.1% of workers leaving before 06h00, recorded the lowest.

Out of the 18% of workers travelling from 06h30 to 06:h59 in the morning, Limpopo, Northern Cape and Free State at 23% had the highest level, followed by 18.9% reported in KwaZulu-Natal.

10% of workers left their homes from 08h00 in the morning or later when going to work. Gauteng (12.4%) and KwaZulu-Natal (11.4%) recorded slightly higher levels of workers going to work from 08h00 or later, while the distribution across all provinces was more or less equal.

Travel time 

Nationally, more than eight in ten workers using trains tended to travel for more than 60 minutes to work.

By comparison, most of the workers who travelled by taxi took between 30 to 60 minutes to reach their place of work (40.6%).

The highest proportion of workers who walked all the way or used a car/bakkie/truck as a passenger or driver travelled for 30 minutes or less.

Workers who drove to their place of work for more than an hour were mostly found in Gauteng (23.7%), Western Cape (18.7%) and KwaZulu-Natal (18.2%).

Read: Why taxis in South Africa are allowed 100% capacity – but airlines have to block some rows off

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How much it costs South Africans to get to work