Do you like to take public transport whenever you travel?
For me, the answer is YES!! Why Not!!! I always like to explore a place whenever I’m travelling there and that can sometimes be a challenge. There’s nothing like discovering a new place but lets face it, It can be expensive exploring on Taxis. So I’ll have to take the cheaper option-Thank you very much-and that is, mass public transport.
While I’m not ruling out the Taxi option, I always make it the last resort. For some reason, I prefer taking the mass public transport-Buses, Trains and Trams. These means of transport are much more cheaper than Taxis and the probability of you getting cheated is next to nothing. Thankfully, apps like Uber have made it much easier for predating Taxi Drivers to take advantage of clueless foreigners like me.
There’s hardly any country I’ve been that I haven’t taken the mass public transport. From hopping on Matatus in Nairobi to taking the metro in Dubai, I end up saving more than I would have spent by taking taxis because I always travel on a budget. Yep! I’m a BUDGET TRAVELER.
My first time in Nairobi, I explored on a Matatu which is very similar to Lagos Danfo buses with less aggression. I was with my friend so it was much easier since she knew how we would get to wherever we were going. The next time I was there, I was fine on my own. Though she would get worried and send me messages to find out if I was ok, I made sure I updated her from time to time on my whereabouts and ask her questions when I wasn’t sure of the bus to take. A Matatu ride didn’t cost me more than 100 Kenyan Shillings (KSH) compared to 800-1200 KSH I would have paid a Taxi depending on the distance.
Making our way to Cape Coast from Accra, my sister and I took the metro mass transit that cost us just 9 Ghana Cedi (GHS) for a one way ride. I have no idea a taxi would have cost, but I’m sure it would have been way more than that.
I took a taxi in New York because I needed to meet up a friend who had a 6 hour layover. The ride was from Time Square to Hudson Street and I ended up paying about $21. Taking the Metro would have cost me about $5 (or less).
In Seychelles, I got ripped off a lot by a taxi driver my first day. I paid almost 400 Seychellois Rupees (SCR)to my hotel which was about 15 minutes from the airport. I later found out that it have been about 120 SCR. When I wanted to go to Victoria, a taxi was going to charge me 165 SCR but I was advised by a local store keeper to take the bus and that cost me only 5 SCR.
Istanbul was challenging because I didn’t understand one single Turkish word so I was using Taxis until I met someone who gave me a metro card because he had an extra. Prior to that point, the cheapest I had paid for a 15-20 minute Taxi ride was about 20-30 Turkish Lira (TRY) depending on the traffic. The cost of the trip by Tram, about 2.83 TRY!!!!!! Can you beat that???
Have I sold you yet on why you should pick this option? Maybe I haven’t but if you ever consider this as an option, these are some tips on how you can get by:
Do as much research as possible about the local transport in your destination. This point I cannot emphasize enough but it’ll do you a lot of good if you have as much information as possible. Find out about the transportation system, how it operates in your destination, what a standard fare for a 30 minute ride would cost and any other information regarding the system.
Whenever you are in doubt, ask questions. Always ask a local for directions or information on how to get to your destination. This will do you a lot of good. One time my sister and I tried to get to Accra Mall from Rig road and we got confused, we walked up to a local and asked for directions. Lucky for us, he was also going to the same area and offered to help us. We ended up in the same Tro-tro and he even paid for the fare (How nice of him).
Be Super Attentive
This is a key point. Always look out for street signs and famous landmarks just so you know you are on track. One time, I wasn’t super attentive was in New York where I took the D train Downtown that was heading to Brooklyn/Coney Island rather than Uptown to the Bronx. It took me over an hour before realizing that I was in the wrong train. I very frustrated because the station guard gave me wrong directions. Thanks station guard (or whatever they call the stern looking men in the booth) for taking me all the way to Coney Island.
Have Google Maps Handy
Google maps is just AWESOME!!! This I always have handy and I use it to navigate by way in a new place. As long as you know the address of where you are trying to get to or you know a famous landmark in the area, you’ll be fine.
What do you think? Would you consider mass public transport as an option while traveling?