BDB Web Site
South African National
Taxi drivers' organisation has asked my friend Togetherness Tshabalala, the
demon taxi driver of Diepsloot, to road-test these new, safer, 18 seater and 35
seater maxi-taxis. The transport Minister
wants these vehicles to replace the notoriously dangerous minibus taxis.
Togetherness's report has
caused a stir among the manufacturers.
Taxi Road Test by
My test shows that:-
- The 35-seater holds 157
passengers, at a squeeze so to speak.
- The roof managed to support a good three tons of
luggage, chickens and building material. This is a significant improvement over the
- Despite a cargo of this magnitude, during my test
run to Pietersburg the vehicle handled well and experienced very few
- At one time the back assembly became incandescent
because the handbrake had been left on. This ignited the petrol tank but
most of the passengers managed to alight. (Alert readers will spot
Togetherness's little pun.) We managed to repair the bus at the roadside
with pieces of corrugated iron and a hammer and resumed our journey.
- The bus, now reduced to a 26
seater, was in fact now
much easier to handle, cornering at speed.
I also liked the 18-seater.
- It can accommodate 77 passengers - nine under the
seats and one in the spacious engine compartment (at reduced fare).
- It put up an impressive performance on the Soweto
route - but only after the electronic speed governor had been neutralised by
striking it with a pipe wrench.
- This speed control device will not be well accepted.
Crawling down the Soweto Highway at a governed 60km/h would certainly be
inviting parking tickets as well as hubcap thieves.
- Talking of which, the wheels in both versions does
not take BMW hubcaps - drivers are not going to like this.
- The automatic hydraulic door is a big advantage over
the minibusís sliding door. If the passengers' appendages are left
sticking out, the sliding doors of the mini-bus tend to guillotine them off,
causing much smarting of the eyes. I was pleased to note that the
maxi-taxi's automatic doors, as they swing shut, tend to relatively
painlessly compress the passenger-load as opposed to trimming its edges.
Passengers are going to welcome this.
- Seat belts on all seats. This cuts by one third the
number of passengers who are propelled to the front of the vehicle every
time the brakes are applied.
- A warning: these busses may be safer than combi
taxis but, when one is forced to take to the pavements in rush hour, they
are decidedly less safe and badly frighten the pedestrians.
- However, the power steering does allow one to jink
among the traffic lanes without rolling the vehicle, which is a big time
- It was, I must say, rather nice driving a bus with
sturdy side-panels which do not flex like lungs when one plays music and
neither do the windows pop out, even when I play my Nine Inch Nails' CD.