CARS AND TRAINS AND COMMUTING

Metrorail, a rail service of sorts. If I was forced to use one word for Metrorail, it would be 'unreliable'. Two words – 'completely unreliable'. And three words would be 'completely utterly unreliable'. The tagline on the ticket is 'getting South Africa to work' – it doesn't say anything about being on time or even getting to work the same day.

I've been using Metrorail for ten years and I really want to say that it's been great as a form of public transport. I used go on about the price of a monthly ticket versus the price of fuel, parking and the stress of traffic. I was a great advocator of public transport. I thought that if more people used public transport it would have to improve. And I will probably continue to delude myself with this argument for some time – like a bad habit, the words will fall out my mouth before I have a chance to silence them. I will rise to defend a cause I've abandoned. I mean, I've been convincing myself that delays and no shows are part of the quirks of train commuting for ten years – I don't really want to be proven wrong.

But the more I drive around, the faster my eyes are opening. Once they are open, they really can't be closed again. I've even gone so far, in the last few days, as to contemplate buying a second car. A car – something I considered to be the biggest waste of money in the world. My view was 'why have a car, use public transport and it will improve. It's cheaper and more eco-friendly'. But the alarm clock of reality has sounded and I have to get up to a cold morning. Yes, some people have no choice – I currently have no choice but that doesn't change or reform public transport. It carries on with its momentum, unheeding of its passengers' needs.

Ultimately, cars do cost more but I'm coming to understand that convenience is worth so much more. I'll still need to use public transport for a while. And at least my love of train travelling hasn't been completely destroyed. It's just the gloss of commuting by train, or any form of public transport, that has disappeared leaving behind delays and frustration. Train travelling is different. Train travelling is part of the journey, a different way of seeing a country, when it is part of the experience to sit on a platform and wait for a train surrounded by the unknown. It is new, exciting and possibly enjoyable. Public transport commuting is not enjoyable, neither is driving a commuter vehicle. But at least you get where you want to go at the time you want to be there and you don't have to deal with the public.