The cheapest and most efficient way to travel around the country, buses are generally safe, although drivers sometimes leave a little to be desired.
Many buses have rather meagre curtains, so to avoid melting in the sun, pay attention to where you sit. Heading from north to south, sit on the right in the morning and the left in the afternoon; east to west, sit on the right, or on the left if travelling from west to east. You will often be assigned a seat when you purchase your ticket, but you can ask to choose a place.
Operating on many intercity routes, night buses can be both quicker and cooler, although risks from other road users are considerably heightened.
Bus trips longer than three hours incorporate a scheduled stop to stretch your legs and grab a snack. Buses are sometimes delayed at police checkpoints for about 10 minutes – longer than grands taxis, whose local drivers usually know the police.
Some Moroccan bus stations are like madhouses, with touts running around calling any number of destinations of buses about to depart. Most cities and towns have a single central bus station (gare routière), but Supratours and CTM often maintain separate terminals, and often have offices outside the station. Occasionally, there are secondary stations for a limited number of local destinations.
With the most comprehensive nationwide network, CTM (www.ctm.ma) serves most destinations of interest to travellers. Established in 1919, it’s Morocco’s oldest bus company.
On CTM buses, children aged four years and over pay full fares, which tend to be 15% to 30% more expensive than most other lines – comparable to 2nd-class fares on normal trains. Tickets can normally be purchased in advance; check departures with the online timetable.
CTM coaches are modern and comfortable, with air-conditioning and heating (they sometimes overdo both).
Some routes between major cities offer a premium service, with comfier seats, more legroom and free wi-fi. Fares are around 40% higher than the regular service.
There is an official Dh5-per-pack baggage charge on CTM buses.
Once you have bought your ticket, you get a baggage tag, which you hand over when you've reached your destination.
The ONCF train company runs Supratours (www.oncf.ma) to complement its rail network. For example, train passengers continuing south from Marrakesh link up at the station with coaches to destinations including Agadir and Ouarzazate. Supratours also runs the busy Marrakesh–Essaouira coach service.
It’s possible, at train ticket offices, to buy a ticket covering a complete trip with both rail and bus components.
On trains, travellers with tickets for connecting buses have priority.
Supratours is similar to CTM in terms of both its fares and the comfort of its buses. Check departures with the online timetable.
In the south of the country, Satas and SAT are good second-tier choices, as is Trans Ghazala in the north.
At the bottom end of the price range, and on shorter routes, there are a fair number of two-bit operations with one or two well-worn buses. These services depart when sufficiently full and frequently stop to recruit more passengers.
Where possible, and especially if services are infrequent or do not originate in the place you want to leave, book ahead for CTM and Supratours buses. Particularly busy routes are Marrakesh–Essaouira and Casablanca–Marrakesh, where you may need to reserve seats two days in advance in high season.
Touts will happily guide you to a ticket booth (and take a small commission from the company). Always double-check that their recommended service really is the most comfortable, direct and convenient option.
Bus stations in the main cities have left-luggage depots (consigne), sometimes open 24 hours. Padlock your bags. More often than not you’ll be charged for baggage handling – Dh5 is common.
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.