OR Tambo parking: Should you Uber, take the Gautrain or is long-term valet parking actually cheaper?
A topic widely discussed on Twitter, Facebook and in Whatsapp groups - here we tackle the 'What is the best way to get to OR Tambo?' question once and for all.
This week we asked our Twitter audience (all avid travellers we assume) how they get to OR Tambo airport for a flight. The biggest margin said that they are dropped off at the airport - presumably because of the high cost of travel to and from the airport. A large group of travellers said that they use Uber or a shuttle service, followed by a group who said they use parking valet services. A small margin said that they use the Gautrain.
Being dropped off by someone is, of course the cheapest. Free rides! But after that, which mode of transport is the smartest one to use for travel to and from OR Tambo?
So, it's a super comfy ride you can take straight from the airport to a few stations scattered around Jozi, but it can be expensive.
A single ticket will put you back between R165 - R192, depending on which station you're going to, whereas a return is between R330 - 384.
And that doesn't factor in the potential extra R100 or more you'd spend on Ubering to and from the Gautrain station to get to and from your home or place of work.
A normal UberX ride could set you back around R300 - 400, one way. It's an efficient, quick and easy direct route, however it is pricier than the Gautrain. Travelling to the airport with another person and splitting the fare makes it pretty competitive and affordable though.
On Twitter, a reader told Traveller24 that he uses a very reliable and efficient shuttle service, added that it's cheaper than valet parking at the airport. However, upon further investigation, I confirmed that many shuttle services will cost you up to R480, one way. A shuttle service is expensive if you're just a single passenger, however travelling in a group, this type of service makes more sense.
Everyone seems to have their own opinion on the matter - especially when it comes to parking - i.e. valet or regular parking at OR Tambo.
Airports Company South Africa has made no bones about their need to expand non-aeronautical revenue streams - with the long-term vision to improve passenger connectivity centred on plans for a Gauteng aerotropolis.
According to Acsa, it would "create an inter-nodal transport system that supports creating sufficient economic activity around the airport, "since the likes of Uber and the Gautrain - being great for the passenger - does dip into the parking revenue".
Construction plans at OR Tambo International airport - close to the Gautrain Station include the construction of an office park development to support the aerotropolis concept planned for the north-west quarter of Gauteng. It will see multi-model transport options for travellers, as well as industrial, commercial and residential projects. Long-term developments will see Gautrain route expansions.
Normal parking - i.e. 12-24h will cost you R180 at a normal parkade and an added R90 thereafter every 12 hours or part thereof. For a day trip from Jo'burg to Cape Town it makes sense to park here for the day.
Choosing the long stay for R310 for 5 days is more expensive, with competition now offered from valet parking services, who will throw in a car wash for a similar price.
I recently joined an OR Tambo Whatsapp group just to see what people recommend in terms of valet parking services and how these different services stack up against each other. Particularly when it comes to short vs long-term parking costs.
Here are just a few recommended by the individuals in this group:
(Most services collect and drop your vehicle off at either the Domestic or International Departures Zone(s).
Just away for the weekend? This service costs only R160 for 2 days - plus you will get a car wash! Three days will set you back R240, plus you'll get a car wash. Factoring in some petrol money to get to and from the airport - this will still work out cheaper than paying a drop-off service or taking a car-hailing service.
Similarly, 4 days cost only R240, plus your car gets a polish.
When it comes to long-term parking it usually gets cheaper. For 15-30 days, this service will charge you R780 - adding on only R30 extra a day as the days increase. So for those lucky enough to take super long holiday, basically.
For an entire month this service will charge you R990, adding R20 per day.
This service, again, is very affordable for the short term: R300 for 5 days, however 31 days will cost you R1k.
This one is super affordable when it comes to short stay - R80 a day, without a clean and R95 a day, with a wash. For long stays it jumps up quite significantly at R1200 monthly.
If we compare the valet parking services at OR Tambo, all offering fairly similar services (pick-up, drop-off and car wash), it seems that many services are cheaper in the short term (1-4 days) than taking a shuttle, Uber or Guatrain (if you factor in the cost of getting to and from the Gautrain station).
Long term parking is very reasonable if you consider how long your car will be at the service with 24h security, however it doesn't make sense to pay R1 200 for a single traveller to keep their car at the airport, whereas they could just use a public service like the Gautrain, which would work out much cheaper for them, in this case.