The roads more (or less) travelled

Mixed signals from December’s motor vehicle travel and service station stops 

Motor vehicle travel to South Africa’s big three airports jumped, on average, 9% during December 2023 compared to twelve months previously, but service station stops dropped by 14% year-on-year.

Joe Spring, Head of Location and Commerce at Lightstone, provider of comprehensive data, analytics and systems on property, automotive and business assets, said travel to OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg increased by 10%, Cape Town International Airport was up by 11% while travel to Durban’s King Shaka International Airport increased by just 1%.

Lightstone analyses anonymised, aggregated and upweighted telemetry data to track and understand vehicle movement trends.

Spring said service station stops (see graph below) were down by 14%, with the Eastern Cape (24%) and Limpopo (28%) recording the largest drops. Service station stops fared best in Northern Cape and Gauteng with drops of only 8% in both provinces.


Service station stops

In the map below, service stations which recorded more than 50 000 stops in December 2023 are marked by a circle, while those with between 25 000 to 50 000 stops are marked with a triangle, and the colours indicate how volumes compared from December 2023 to December 2022.

Spring said the red and blue markers demonstrated how compromised the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and the KZN interior were.


Although most of the service stations were down along the Johannesburg to Durban route (map below), December 2023 stops at the ever-popular Bergview were higher than in December 2022.


The busiest service stations on travelling routes were Engen-Bergview, Total Petroport-Alzu, Engen-Kranskop 1 (North and South), Shell UC (South Coast, South bound), Total Petroport-Riverhorse Valley (North Coast, North bound), Shell UC-Estcourt North, and Shell Montrose.

 Spring said South Africans were, typically, on the road in higher numbers over the weekends, with the busiest days, based on service station activity on routes not servicing local town traffic, (in order) on Saturday 23, Saturday 16, Friday 22, Friday 15, Wednesday 27, Sunday 24, Monday 18, and Saturday 30 December.