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Metrorail makes passing matric harder

Grade 12 learners are struggling to get to school and exams

Photo of people boarding a train
GroundUp has been reporting since 2014 on the difficulties school learners face with Metrorail trains. Archive photo: Masixole Feni
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Grade 12 learners started writing examinations this week. Many of them rely on public transport to get to classes. As Metrorail train services are increasingly unreliable, learners are seeking alternative ways to get to their exams.

Western Cape ministers for education, Debbie Schafer, and transport, Donald Grant, have appealed to all public transport operators to assist in ensuring that candidates get to their exam centres on time.

Candidates arriving later than one hour are not allowed to write the exam and are urged to make use of the supplementary exams next year.

Some grade 12 learners have abandoned trains for minibus taxis on exam days. But the taxis are expensive and parents are having to fork out.

“Starting from this week I will be using minibus taxis from Manenberg to Athlone. I cannot afford missing any examination,” said a grade 12 learner from Ned Doman High School, who lives in Vukuzenzele, Philippi.

Whereas his monthly train ticket from Nyanga Junction to Athlone cost him R63, it is now costing him R80 a week by taxi. “Trains are delayed every day,” he said. “Metrorail should provide us with alternative transport if trains are not reliable during such periods of the year.”

During the school term he often missed an hour of classes in the morning due to late trains. “I wake up as early as 5:30am preparing for school; get to the train station by 6:45am, but I am always late for lessons because of the train delays. I am supposed to get the 7:05am train, but it’s always not in time or cancelled,” he said.

Another learner from Maitland High School has stopped using trains on the central line during the exam period. She uses minibus taxis from Vukuzenzele to Wetton to take the Cape Flats line as she says these trains are more reliable. Her monthly Metro-plus ticket cost her R340. She now spends double that.

“When it is not examination period I have to be at Nyanga Junction by 6:45am for 7:05am train, but it’s very rare to get that train. It is either cancelled or delayed. Sometimes I have to board the train from Nyanga Junction to go opposite direction to Mitchells Plain to secure a seat when the train comes back to Maitland.”

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