How to decide between public or private transport?

Important factors to consider to help you decide between public and private transport

Hilary Hackney
public vs private transport
public transport
private transport

For many people, using public transport is a part of daily life. Even if the opportunity is there to purchase their own vehicle – many choose to rather stick to the public transport option. There are various reasons for this decision, one of which is that, for them, it remains the most cost-effective option. 

In the 2018 General Household Survey (GHS), findings obtained revealed that 54.2million minibus/taxi trips are undertaken by South Africans on a monthly basis, followed by 11million commuters using bus transport and commuter rail operations are made up of 6million.    


Cost, location and lifestyle – are some of the primary factors to consider when selecting the best mode of transport, and whether to buy a car or utilise public transport.



Cost is the biggest consideration when deciding on a means of transport. One needs to weigh up the cost of buying a car vs using public transport.

There are direct and indirect costs which should be taken into consideration for private transport:

  • Direct costs:
    • Financing
    • Interest on a bank loan
    • Monthly instalments
    • Warranties and insurances


  • Indirect costs:
    • Vehicle maintenance
    • Vehicle depreciation
    • Fuel consumption


Public transport costs vary depending on the mode of transport (bus, train, taxi, and the more expensive Uber) and where you live, but it is most often significantly more cost-effective than private transport.


Location and convenience

A main factor when considering transport options is the area you live in and the proximity of where you live, vs where you work.

The convenience factor can be affected when you look at transport outside of working hours, when the options decrease.  Most buses and taxis only operate until a certain time, and then there are options like Uber which offers the convenience and flexibility of private transport, but it is not as cost-effective as the previously mentioned options.



Owning a car offers you a lot more freedom and flexibility over your own life, but besides flexibility, there are still other factors to be taken into account like:

1. Do you need to transport goods or people?

2. Is it safe for you to use public transport in your area? OR Can you afford a safe and reliable car?

3. Do you need to travel out of normal public transport hours?

4. How much mobility do you require? (private transport offers maximum mobility whenever you need it).

5. Can you afford to purchase a car AND the monthly costs associated with owning a car



Should you establish that the time is right for you to purchase a pre-owned car, do some research on what is available online. You will find some amazing options through


Here are 5 tips to help you when making your car purchasing decisions:

  1. Make sure you research first! Establish what kind of vehicle will best suit your needs AND fall into your affordability bracket
  2. Work out your budget, taking long term monthly costs into consideration – and stick to that budget
  3. Understand financing options
  4. Visit a reputable dealership
  5. Test drive the vehicle