Gautrain app takes off for self-taught programmer

MAY 27, 2016

Missing their ride is a thing of the past for Gautrain commuters, thanks to Eastern Cape-born computer whiz Litha Soyizwapi, who has developed a smartphone application that helps Gautrain commuters track bus and train times. 

The GauRider app has had rave reviews in South Africa and internationally, and Soyizwapi – a Graphic Design graduate from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University who taught himself to develop apps – is working hard to make it even better, having recently released a new version of the app.

GauRider, which works on Apple devices only, allows users of the Gautrain and its bus service to track times of the next available train or bus on their apple devices, helping commuters and travellers navigate the rapid-transit-railway system which links OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Financial Mail rated the GauRider app 4.5 stars out of 5 and it recently became number one for the first time in the travel category of the iPhone in the South African AppStore.

The app, which was only launched two years ago, is also number one on both Top Paid and Top Grossing charts in the iPhone’s travel category. It was mentioned at Webbdagarna 2014, a web and mobile conference in Stockholm, Sweden for its user interface and user experience.

Two months ago, Soyizwapi released GauRider 2.0, which includes two new features: The Smart Log System feature helps commuters track their money on their Gautrain gold cards, while the Smart GauSave Indicator works out the train fare, based on the current GauSave (on-peak or off-peak) period.

The Butterworth-born developer said he came up with the first feature after seeing many people getting left behind because they didn’t have enough money in their gold cards.

“I thought it would be great to add a new feature that enables Gautrain commuters to log in their latest balance on the app at their check-ins or check-outs,” said Soyizwapi.

According to the developer, the app will give you a warning if you have logged less than the minimum amount required to board a bus or train.  “The second feature will help commuters know how much they need to load or how much they are saving on their Gautrain trip as GauSave represents different fare periods based on-peak and off-peak periods,” he said.

Soyizwapi, who is currently working on developing the Android version of GauRider, taught himself how to develop apps.

 “I first downloaded tutorials from two websites of international institutions of higher learning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University. After gaining confidence, I registered with Apple as a developer to ensure that I had limitless resources and support.”

Asked to motivate children growing up in impoverished areas, like he did, Soyizwapi said he would advise them to be lifelong learners because education and application of knowledge is really important.

“It requires a lot of discipline and dedication to succeed so make sure that you do something that you love or really care about,” he said.

“If the will is strong enough, you will find a way. Never give up, it is not easy!”

Mary Duker, Soyizwapi’s drawing lecturer at NMMU’s School of Music, Art and Design, said she had kept track of her former student’s career over the years and was not surprised by his success.

“Litha’s talent has always stretched beyond technical skill. He was a focused, conceptually strong design thinker, and a student that was always ready to take any challenge on board.

“I am proud to see that he has continued to venture into creative territories.”

GauRider is available for purchase on iTunes for R79.99.