A collaborative King's College London and UCT research project


In addition the focus groups conducted at the three case study sites, the team felt that an additional piece of research exploring the ways in which alcohol permeates, travel through and is governed on the city’s transport system would be valuable. Transport is a political flashpoint in the city, as Cape Town’s sprawling suburbs are poorly connected the city centre, undermining people’s mobility, ability to seek work and navigate the city efficiently. The main modes of tramsport are trains, buses and (shared) taxis. However, incidents of crime are high and the threat of violence puts many off. The City of Cape Town has recently spent billions of Rands upgrading several buslines under the “MiCiti” project. The new buses and dedicated bus lanes represent the first phase of the city’s integrated rapid transit plan. The scheme is based on one in Bogota, Colombia and will, in time, be extended east into the Cape Flats. Despite this investment, the reality for many of the city’s non-car owning commuters is a system plagued by frequent delays and, in recent years, taxi cartels, violence and disruption.


Against this back drop, alcohol has been an under-studied phenomenon. Questions of how alcohol affects transport use and the experience of public transport are important as they point to broader issues of safety, security and the benefits that unencumbered mobility brings. How is alcohol regulated on board transport? Formally or informally? How is alcohol governed at transport interchanges? What role do the police or transportation employees play? Does alcohol add to the conviviality of city travel? Or does it inflame fear?

To explore these questions, several researchers conducted ethnographic observation and conducted mini-interviews with commuters and tramsport staff at several sites in Mitchell’s Plain:

CrossRoads bus station:

Philippi Train station:

Khayelitsha train station and taxi rank

Nonkqubela train station


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