Transport in Durban
Durban International Airport services both domestic and international flights, with regularly-scheduled service to Swaziland, Mozambique, and Mauritius.
The airport handled four million passengers in 2005, up over 15 percent from 2004. Plans are at an advanced stage for the construction of a new airport, to be known as King Shaka International Airport, at La Mercy, about 36 kilometres (22 ml) north of the Central Business District, and 15 kilometers north of Umhlanga Rocks.
The airport serves as a major gateway for travellers to KwaZulu-Natal and the Drakensberg.
Durban has a long tradition as a port city. The Port of Durban, which was formerly known as the Port of Natal, is one of the few natural harbours between Port Elizabeth and Maputo, and is also located at the beginning of a particular weather phenomenon which can cause extremely violent seas. These two features made Durban an extremely busy port of call for ship repairs when the port was opened in the 1840s. The Port of Durban is now the busiest port in South Africa, as well as the busiest container port in the Southern Hemisphere.
The modern Port of Durban grew around trade from Johannesburg, as the industrial and mining capital of South Africa is not located on any navigable body of water. Thus, products being shipped from Johannesburg outside of South Africa have to be loaded onto trucks or railways and transported to Durban. The Port of Maputo was unavailable for use until the early 1990s, due to civil war and an embargo against South African products. There is now an intense rivalry between Durban and Maputo for shipping business.
Salisbury Island, now joined to the mainland and part of the Port of Durban, was formerly a full naval base, until it was downgraded in 2002. It now contains a naval station and other military facilities. The future of the base, however, is uncertain, as there is increasing demand to use Salisbury Island as part of the port facilities.
Durban is well-served by railways due to its role as the largest trans-shipment point for goods from the interior of South Africa. Shosholoza Meyl, the passenger rail service of Spoornet, operates two long-distance passenger rail services from Durban: a daily service to and from Johannesburg via Pietermaritzburg, and a weekly service to and from Cape Town via Kimberley and Bloemfontein. These trains terminate at Durban Railway Station.
Metrorail operates a commuter rail service in Durban and the surrounding area. The Metrorail network runs from Durban Station outwards as far as Stanger on the north coast, Kelso on the south coast, and Cato Ridge inland.
One national road starts in Durban and one passes through it: The N3, the busiest national road in South Africa, which links Durban with Johannesburg; and the N2, which links Durban with East London, and Port Elizabeth before ending in Cape Town. The N3 is particularly important as goods are moved by truck from Johannesburg to be shipped out of the Port of Durban. The N3 starts in the Central Business District, and interchanges with the N2 at the Westville Four-Level Interchange, officially known as the E. B. Cloete Interchange, which is informally nicknamed the Spaghetti Junction due to the complicated nature of the interchange. The N2 runs through the entire city from north to south, and is known locally as the "Outer Ring Road".
Durban also has a system of freeway and dual carriageway M-roads, which connect different parts of the city. The M4 exists in two segments: The northern segment starts as an undivided highway at Ballito—where it separates from the N2—passing through Umhlanga Rocks, becoming a dual carriageway just south of that town, and ending at the northern edge of the Durban CBD. The southern segment of the M4 starts at the southern edge of the CBD, connecting it with Durban International Airport, where it reconnects with the N2. The M7 connects the N2 and the Durban South Industrial Basin with the N3 and Pinetown via Queensburgh. The M19 connects the N2 with Pinetown via Westville. The M13 acts as an alternative to the N3, which is tolled at Mariannhill, as well as feeds traffic through Gillitts, Kloof, and Westville.
Remant Alton, which bought the recently privatised eThekwini Municipal Bus Company, operates scheduled bus services throughout the Durban metropolitan area. Remant Alton is barely functional, has lost key individuals, suffered the loss of 56 buses in a fire, and had many of the remainder impounded due to unroadworthiness. This has left Durban with a poorly functioning formal public transport system. Several companies run long-distance bus services from Durban to the other cities in South Africa.
Durban has two kinds of taxis: metered taxis and minibus taxis. Unlike many cities, metered taxis are not allowed to drive around the city to solicit fares and instead must be called and ordered to a specific location. There are a number of companies which service the Durban and surrounding regions. These taxis can also be called upon for airport transfers, point to point pick ups and shuttles.
Minibus taxis are the standard form of transport for the majority of the population who cannot afford private cars. Although essential, these taxis are often poorly maintained, and are frequently not road-worthy.
These taxis make frequent unscheduled stops to pick up passengers, which cause accidents when drivers to the rear are unable to stop in time. With the high demand for transport by the working class of South Africa, minibus taxis are often filled over their legal passenger allowance, making for high casualty rates when minibuses are involved in accidents. Minibuses are generally owned and operated in fleets, and inter-operator violence flares up from time to time, especially as turf wars over lucrative taxi routes occur.
Durban is also famous for its iconic Zulu Rickshaw pullers navigating throughout the city. These colourful characters are famous for their giant, vibrant hats and costumes. Although they have been a mode of transportation since the early 1900s, they mostly cater to tourists.