Practical Life in Casablanca


Transport in Casablanca


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Casablanca is a an important gateway into the Morocco and offers public transportation options by land, air, and by water.

Navigation

The Moroccan government supplies a map of Casablanca in book form called Carte Guide de Casablanca. It is available in bookstores or online. Street signs are in French or Arabic, and occasionally Spanish or English.

A unique feature of Morocco's streets and cityscape is the reverence for trees as dictated by the Koran. New streets are often constructed around trees and sometimes they appear in the middle of the road.

Public Transportation

An underground railway system has been the topic of debate for years. It is a necessary step for relieving traffic congestion and poor air quality. It is not expected to be ready before 2017. It will span 10 km (6.21 miles) and cost in excess of 46.7 billion dirhams.

Public Transport map: Casablanca Transport Map

Train

There is an extensive railway system which consists of 1,907 kilometers (1,185 miles) of track. There is an increasing number of high-speed lines which will greatly decrease travel times. Trains travel between Tangier, Meknes, Fes, Oujda, Rabat, Casablanca and Marrakech.

Casablanca is served by two rail stations, Casablanca Port and Casablanca Voyageurs. The national rail service is the ONCF. The Moroccan national train service lists all the schedules and fares.

Fares are inexpensive and trains are efficient and comfortable. People are very social and talk and share food during train rides.

Tickets

Trains tickets are inexpensive and an average ride, like from Tangier to Marrakech only costs about 200 dh.

Trains are divided into first and second-class compartments. First-class generally costs an additional 50 percent, but offer more room and guarantee a seat. Boarding second-class compartments during peak hours may mean that you have to stand until a seat opens up.

Train: http://www.oncf.ma/

Bus

City buses are an inexpensive, but crowded way to travel through the city. Beware that conditions can be unsavory and single woman may endure harassment if alone.

Another option are the luxury buses operated by CTM and Supratours.

Tickets

Tickets can be purchased at the bus depot. Going by bus is the cheapest way to get around at 4 Dh per ticket.

Long Distance Bus Systems

Long distance bus systems are affordable and comfortable and most offer air conditioning. There are several national bus companies - including Supratours and SATAS - that operate between most major towns and cities in Morocco. Bus services are necessary to reach many of the smaller towns not reachable by train. Buses depart from the Gare Routière on Rue Léon l'Africain in downtown Casablanca.

Ferry/Boat

There are several car and passenger ferry services which offer routes between Spain, Gibraltar, France and Italy to Morocco.

To/From Spain

FRS is one of the primary ferry services. The most popular ferry crossing from Spain to Morocco is from Algeciras (Spain) to Tangier (Morocco). Ferries leave almost every hour year round. Many companies run ferries and may accept other companies tickets. Inquire at the ticket office when you buy.

Another popular route is from Algeciras (Spain) to Ceuta, (Spanish Morocco). High-speed ferries carry passengers and cars across the Straits of Gibraltar in 30 minutes.

Ferries from Almeria and Malaga to Melilla (Spanish Morocco) depart almost every day and take about 6-9 hours.

To/From France

Tickets are fairly expensive, but it is possible to take your car and save a long drive. Comanav Ferries are the preferred provider.

Ferries leave from Sete to Tangier all year round. The trip takes 36 hours and have restaurants, nightclubs, beds and shops on board. During the summer months (June to September) services are also available from Port Vendres (France) to Tangier (Morocco).

To/From Gibraltar

Ferries travel from Gibraltar to Tangier twice a week and the trip takes 80 minutes.

To/From Italy

Ferries travel from Genoa to Tangier. The trip lasts 48 hours and the ferries leave every six days. Traghetti operates the main ferry service.

Plane

Mohammed V International Airport (GMMN) is Casablanca's main airport and the busiest in Morocco. Regular domestic flights serve Marrakech, Rabat, Agadir, Oujda, and Tangier, Laayoune. International flights arrive from around the world including Europe, North American, the Middle East and sub-Saharan African destinations. New York, Dakar and Dubai are important primary destinations.

Transport From the Airport

Trains: Trains are the most reliable transport. There is a train connection every hour linking Mohammed V airport with Casablanca Voyageurs station. The train journey lasts 35 minutes.
Shuttle: There is a shuttle bus between the airport and the CTM coach station. About 12 lines run everyday from 7:30 to 00:30.
Bus: CTM coaches and private lines run services to most major Moroccan towns, as well as a number of European cities. These run from the Gare Routière on Rue Lèon l'Africain in downtown Casablanca.
Drive: Roadways are adequately marked into the city. There is a toll road that runs from Tangier to El Jadida, passing through Casablanca and Rabat.
Taxi: The journey from the airport to the city center by Taxi services should cost around 200dh and can take up to 6 people.

Taxi

Registered taxis should have signs on their roofs and a seal painted on the front passenger door. Taxis can be found at official or unofficial taxi stands and can be hailed from almost anywhere.

There are two types of registered taxis:
Petits taxis (small taxis) are red and typically small, four door Fiat Unos. They provide metered cab service in the central metropolitan areas.
Grands taxis (big taxis) are white, generally older Mercedes-Benz sedans, and provide shared mini-bus like service within Morocco. These routes are usually pre-defined. Grands Taxis may be hired for private service by the hour or day, although typically only foreigners do so. The front seat is normally given to two women (as local women are not allowed to be in contact with a man). Travelers may pay for 2 seats that remain unoccupied for additional comfort.

Check that the meter is running to avoid being over charged at the end of the trip. It is also common practice to pick up multiple fares.

Fares & Tipping

Grands taxis are more expensive as there is a fixed rate for specific route, usually around 40 to 50 dirhams. A petits taxi shouldn't cost more than 20 dirhams. The starting fare is around 1.70-3.40 dirhams and rates go up to time and a half after 20:00.

In taxis, just round up to the nearest 5 dirhams. For example, if the taxi meter says 17, pay 20.

To estimate fares, the Taximeter is a helpful tool.

Hitchhiking

Hitching is a routine form of travel in Morocco. Larger vehicles frequently stop for passengers for a small payment. Price is about half that of a grands taxis. Expect to ride in the back with lots of locals.

Car Hire

Car rental allows visitors to move freely through Morocco, but driving presents challenges. Urban roads are well maintained, but outside of the city roads and signage become less desirable. Car rental prices are high as is the accident rate. Gas/petrol stations are uncommon outside of Casablanca.

Rentals can be easily arranged online or at points of entry. Shop around online to find the best prices as all the major car hire companies. The low season (November) offers discounts of up to 20 percent. There are worldwide rental companies and several local rental companies. Local companies tend to offer lower prices, but may offer unreliable services and vehicles. Check the vehicles condition, spare tire, and information before leaving the lot. Also check with your rental company where you can drive. Some void insurance if you take unmarked or unofficial roads.

Driving Licenses

The minimum driving age in Casablanca is 21. Always carry your driver's license and passport while driving.

Roadways & Rules

The main road network is in good condition. Roads have good surface, although very narrow, in most cases only one lane in each direction. Along with motorists, there are cyclists, pedestrians and horse-drawn vehicles that use the road. The main cities are connected by toll expressways.

    Major Roadways:
  • A2 - Lies east to west from Rabat to Fez. It comprises part of the planned expressway that will continue all the way to Tripoli.
  • A7 - Runs south from Casablanca to Agadir through Marrakech
  • A5 - Around Casablanca and down the coast, this road connects Mohammedia and El Jadida.

Road signs are in Arabic and French. Traffic laws are similar to Europe, but you give way to the right. Beware that many people ignore traffic regulations unless a policeman is in sight. General rule is that vehicles larger than yours should be given a priority: trucks, buses and even grand taxis. There are also numerous police checks on the main roads where drivers must slow down to allow them to see you. The basic speed limit is 40kph with fines imposed on the spot.

Be ready for almost constant horns. Drivers use them freely for any irritation or delay.

Use a distance calculator to estimate fuel needs, time required, and distance.

Morocco Map: http://wwp.greenwichmeantime.com/time-zone/africa/morocco/map/index.htm
Road Map: http://mc.multimap.com/world/MA


Update 10/01/2012





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