THE BLOG

Here Is Why Taxis Must Stay

These people are the workforce grinding away all around the city making it run the way it does and although it's not perfect, but it's praiseworthy.

10/05/2017 03:56 SAST | Updated 10/05/2017 03:56 SAST
Mike Hutchings/ Reuters

Minibus taxis just stop anywhere. Annoying, right? I'm sure that you have also seen wrenches used as a steering wheel and string to pull the accelerator cable. Unbelievable what goes on! So not only are our roads full of potholes, street lights and robots that are off more than they are on, congestion is getting uncontrollable and to top it all off we are forced to deal with taxis.

I have never been in a car in Johannesburg during peak hour traffic without the driver throwing an insult either directly or indirectly at a taxi. I am not looking to address the driver or complaint, just or unjust, right or wrong, that part is totally irrelevant. Rather for a moment, to put on a second hat and remove the vehicle from the equation.

Those 15 people and in some cases 35, are the workforce grinding away all around the city making it run the way it does and although it's not perfect, it's worthy of praise. Most of these people are putting in a good hard day's work trying their absolute best to make enough money to look after the people that depend on them, all while trying to get ahead, get noticed and aspire to the job above them or to make that leap to something that they have a passion for.

Almost anyone in a taxi at peak hour is not there out of choice but rather there because of their working hours. Receptionists, personal assistants, tea ladies, domestic workers, nannies at aftercare facilities, gardeners, building maintenance controllers and so on. From my own personal experience, most of these people are genuinely cared about by other people around them, in all levels of management.

If any one of these people was a colleague or a friend or business associate would you open an office door for them to go through? Would you let them come in front of you in a queue? Would you drive five blocks out of your way to get them to a better taxi line? The "would you" theme of questions could go on and on but my point is either your answers are either yes or no.

If you are South African then you are probably saying yes, so the next time you take the wheel, instead of letting your anger take control, react with a joyous heart when you see a taxi driving on the wrong side of the road on corner central street and 11th avenue Houghton at 5:30pm.

Taxi drivers and their vehicles might not be perfect but they provide the best option right now and until Elon Musk places eight cameras and a radar on our taxis and makes them 10 times super human.

Imagine that one of those people just took care of your child and think about where you are going and where they might be going and consider letting that taxi do exactly what it's trying to do as safely for you and them. Add a smile to your face, give a thumbs up and pump up your tunes. If the ideology of Avatar is right, we are all connected and that energy will return, so make it a pleasant one.

The journey to home for some of those people requires another one and a half hours of travel, where screaming children need to be fed and homework still needs to be done. Taxi drivers and their vehicles might not be perfect but they provide the best option right now and until Elon Musk places eight cameras and a radar on our taxis and makes them 10 times super human in terms of capabilities, with a fully autonomous option, we need to play the cards that we are dealt.

It might not be that long away, by the end of the year Tesla cars will be fully autonomous from Los Angeles to New York City, and it will be adaptable to any highway system anywhere in the world. Musk says that his team is less than two years away from people getting into a car and not having to touch anything in the vehicle to get from A to B but trust in autonomy takes time, with positive past statistics and future probabilities.

The "unlikelihood" of a car crashing now is 1 in 1,000 times. In a few years it will be 100 lifetimes until finally it goes beyond 1,000, where drivers will happily sleep at the wheel in a moving car. Musk says that we will 100 percent all be a part of a taxi type service, either as an owner or user in a shared fleet with our family, friends and fellow man. The only unanswerable question right now, is when?!