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The South Africa Minibus Taxi Industry Growth: Overview, Facts and Statistics

The South Africa Minibus Taxi Industry Growth: Overview, Facts and Statistics

The taxi industry in South Africa continues to grow despite a tough economy.

Loans to taxi operators increased 14% to more than R10.1 billion. South Africa Taxi finances some 650 minibus taxis every month, and it has 30,000 operators on its books. Despite fare hikes due to higher fuel prices and higher vehicle prices, the demand for minibus taxi transport continues to grow.

Some interesting facts for the South Africa minibus tax industry can be summarised as:

  • It’s worth about R50 billion a year
  • 69% of all South African households use minibus taxis
  • Fifteen years ago, only 59% of South Africans used taxis. In the past five years alone, minibus taxi usage has increased by 25%.
  • Minibus taxis represent 75% of all transport to work, schools and universities in South Africa.
  • Minibus taxis are responsible for 15 million daily computer trips
  • By comparison, buses represent one million trips, followed by trains (800,000), and government’s rapid bus transport (120,000).
  • Minibus taxis travel 19 billion kilometres a year, equivalent to almost 25,000 trips to the moon and back.
  • There are 250,000 minibus taxis currently doing business in South Africa

This is how taxi prices compare with buses trains and Uber:

  • The average minibus taxi fare last year was R16.00 with minibus taxis, compared to a train ticket of R9.50 and bus ticket R17.80. Uber cost R280.
  • The average taxi operator on this route will earn a profit of R20,000 a month
  • A ticket on an Eldo bus (R240) is cheaper than a minibus taxi (R300). A Greyhound ticket (R395) and train ticket (R390) are somewhat more expensive. Average profitability on this route is R35,000 a month. North West commuters saw the largest minibus taxi fare increases last year
  • In some regions fares were increased twice last year, due to fuel price hikes. Historically, fares are only increased once a year.
  • Three people are killed in taxi-related accidents every day.
  • Of the 36 people who die in accidents per day on South African roads on average, three are killed in taxi related incidents.

Most minibus taxi passengers have witnessed inappropriate behaviour :-

  • A survey among taxi passengers by the South African Institute of Race Relations, found that 52% had seen or experienced a road accident for which a taxi driver was responsible.
  • Some 47% of passengers have seen illegal acts, like paying bribes to avoid a fine.
  • 44% said they had seen a taxi driver being unable to produce a driver’s licence.
  • South Africa’s taxi workhorse costs more than R440,000. The price tag on a Toyota Ses’Fikile diesel model is currently R444,200 – and the price has increased by 22% since 2015. Taxi owners get R124,000 when they trade in their own models
  • The Department of Transport increased the mini-bus taxi scrapping allowance from R91,100 to R124,000 per vehicle last month. Government introduced the scheme more than a decade ago, to encourage taxi owners to take older, unsafe vehicles off the road, and replace them with safer vehicles. By September last year a total of 72,653 old taxis have been scrapped and a total amount of R4.4 billion was paid to taxi owners.

The minibus taxi industry only became legal in 1987. Until 1987, it was prohibited to transport passengers without a permit in South Africa. More than 90% of applications by black taxi-owners were rejected by the Apartheid government. They were forced to illegally transport passengers, and in the 1980s started using kombis.This was still deemed illegal by the state. Due to pressure from taxi owners, who organised themselves in associations, government was forced to regulate the industry in 1987, which made made minibus taxis legal for the first time.

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