President Jacob Zuma left Pretoria on Thursday morning on a packed Metrorail train heading to Johannesburg.
The president moved from one coach to the other greeting and talking briefly to commuters.
He was with Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane - sharing jokes and laughing loudly.
Zuma had arrived at around 7am at Pretoria's main Bosman train station on Thursday morning to take a train ride.
He went to buy his train ticket.
Early morning commuters stopped and stared with surprise at the huge contingent of police officers, Metrorail staff and numerous news crews.
On the train, commuters spoke emotionally regarding the "poor" train service to the president.
"We are struggling, president. The trains are always overloaded like this - this is how we survive", said one commuter.
Many commuters took photographs of the president and the premier using their cellphone.
"I am so glad I have seen the president for the first time. This is amazing," said another.
Earlier, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Tshwane Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa and other officials were at the station.
Zuma's tour, dubbed "The President's Monitoring Visit 2012" was an opportunity for him to assess public transport in Gauteng during rush hour.
He was expected to board the train from Pretoria to Sandton, from there take a Gautrain to Park Station, and then proceed with a ride on a Rea Vaya bus on his way to Soweto.