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Local transport

Local Transport

Petit Taxi

  • Cities and bigger towns have local petits taxis and are a different colour in every city.
  • Petits taxis are licensed to carry up to three passengers, but are not permitted to go beyond the city limits.
  • Petits taxis are metered in cities, less commonly so in smaller towns. To ask in French for the meter to be switched on, say ‘tourne le conteur, si’l vous plaît’. Where taxis are not metered, agree on a price beforehand.
  • If the driver refuses to use the meter and won’t give you a price, ask to stop and get out. Most petit-taxi drivers are perfectly honest, but those in Marrakesh and Casablanca are notoriously greedy with tourists.
  • Multiple hire is common. The price should be the same whether you hail an empty taxi and pick up other passengers en route, or there are already others in a taxi you wave down, or you travel alone.
  • From 8pm (often 9pm in summer) there is normally a 50% surcharge.

Bus

  • The bigger cities have public bus services.
  • Tickets are typically Dh5.
  • Buses can be ludicrously overcrowded and routes often hard to discern.
  • Petits taxis are often an easier and faster option.

Grand Taxi

The Mercedes saloons you’ll see on Moroccan roads and gathered near bus stations are shared taxis (grands taxis in French or taxiat kebira in Arabic). On many routes the older cars are being replaced with newer people carriers.

The Ziz and Drâa Valleys, the Tizi n’Test and the Rif Mountains, all scenic areas not well-served by buses, are good to visit in a taxi.

Routes Grands taxis link towns to their neighbours, often in a relay system that may necessitate changing a few times on longer journeys. Taxis sometimes ply longer routes but these services are rarer and usually leave first thing in the morning.

Seats Grands taxis take six cramped passengers (two in the front, four in the back) and leave when full. It can often be advantageous to pay for two seats to get the taxi going earlier, and give yourself more space. This is particularly useful for lone women, as you should get the front seat to yourself.

Fares The fixed-rate fares are a little higher than bus fares, but still very reasonable. Make it clear you want to pay for une place (one spot) in a taxi collectif (shared taxi). Another expression that helps explain that you don’t want the taxi to yourself is ma’a an-nas (with other people). If you've got particularly heavy/bulky luggage, there might be a surcharge.

Private hire Hiring an entire taxi is sometimes a good option – especially if you’re travelling with a small group, or you want to travel along an unpopular route without waiting hours for other passengers. The fare should be six times the cost for one place. If you’ll be travelling through a scenic area, make sure plans for stopping en route are clear.

Hazards Grand-taxi drivers often have a boy-racer mentality. Overtaking on blind corners can be a badge of honour, and speed limits are only adhered to when there’s a police roadblock in sight. Night-time journeys are best avoided. Seatbelts are a rarity – and questioning this may be taken as a slur on your driver’s skills.

Pick-up Truck & 4WD

  • In more remote areas, especially the Atlas Mountains, locals travel between villages in Berber camionettes (pick-up trucks), old vans or the back of trucks.
  • When travelling between remote towns and villages, the best time to find a lift is early on market days (generally once or twice a week). Waits for departures can be considerable.
  • On remote pistes that would destroy normal taxis, 4WD taxis operate.

Overview

Getting around Morocco is pretty straightforward – transport networks between towns are good, and even off the beaten track there’s often something going your way. Royal Air Maroc offers internal flights, the rail network is excellent in linking the major cities (with a high-speedTGV line between Tangier and Casablanca currently under construction), and large bus companies such as CTM are comfortable and efficient. Local networks are cheaper and more cheerful and do the job.

Car hire is relatively expensive but gives you the most freedom, although navigating the big cities can be stressful. Good sealed roads are generally the order of the day, with much investment being poured into areas like the Rif to improve their connectivity. Roads in remote mountain and desert areas are often just a piste (unsealed track or road).

Traveller Etiquette

When travelling on public transport, it’s considered both selfish and bad manners to eat while those around you go without. Always buy a little extra to offer to your neighbours.

Next comes the ritual. If you offer food, etiquette dictates that your fellow passengers should decline it. It should be offered a second time, a little more persuasively, but again it will be turned down. On a third, more insistent offer, your neighbours are free to accept the gift if they wish to.

If you are offered food, but you don’t want it, it’s good manners to accept a small piece anyway, and to pat your stomach contentedly to indicate that you are full. In return for participating in this ritual, you should be accorded great respect, offered protection and cared for like a friend.