If you’re like me, when you planned your first trip to Morocco, you picked up the latest edition of Lonely Planet. Leafing through your travel guide, you came across the term Grand Taxi many times not quite understanding what the term meant. (I honestly though it was probably just a regular taxi!) It wasn’t until much later that you realized there was actually a difference between a Grand Taxi and a taxi. As for many things regarding this touristic gem of the Maghreb, information is sometimes a little difficult to find; that’s why I created this guide collecting all the information relevant to the use of this « out of the ordinary » mode of transport.
Table of Contents
What are Morocco’s Grands Taxis?
It’s commonplace for most Moroccans to travel by Grand Taxi. (taxiat kebira in Arabic.) What is this distinctive mode of transport so popular with locals? Grand Taxi have a fixed destination and transport up to 6 people. Used to take long rides from city to city, they are much quicker, albeit a little more expensive, than the bus.
Ultimately, when we talk about a Grand Taxi, we are typically speaking of a kind of postmodern Uber in the shape of a diesel Mercedes. It’s a rideshare service allowing you to travel around Morocco. The Grands Taxis don’t leave the city before it’s at full capacity. That means 6 passengers (2 on the front seat, and 4 on the back seat) plus the taxi driver. If you don’t want to wait around, you can choose to « buy » the entire taxi and leave immediately.
Grand taxis form a relay system that may necessitate changing a few times on longer journeys. Taxis sometimes run longer routes, but those opportunities are rarer and usually leave in the early morning.
Moreover, the Grand Taxi isn’t the only kind of Taxi in Morocco. There are also Petits Taxis. (Being a French speaker, I should have seen this coming…) We’ll come back to this later!
How do Grand Taxis work?
Grands Taxis only leave when they are full and that can be in inconvenience to some.
Taking a Grand Taxi, you have the choice to:
- You can pay for all six seats and go alone: It might be the right choice for you, especially if you’re traveling with a small group, or you want to travel along an unpopular route without waiting hours for other passengers.
- Pay for two and sit in front alone: It can often be advantageous to pay for two seats to get the taxi going earlier or treat yourself to more space. Solo female travelers might find it valuable to get the front seat to themselves.
- Just buy one seat: Make it clear you want to pay for une place (one seat). You may also say ma’a an-nas (with other people).
Be aware if the driver finds another customer along the route heading in the same direction, he will usually pick them up, unless you buy the entire taxi!
If you want to ride a Grand Taxi:
- Find the taxi area for your destination (They take the shape of Mercedes saloons on Moroccan roads or gathered near bus stations)
- Let the drivers know where you want to go (Some stations are at times very busy and you may need to be aggressive to get in a taxi.)
- Wait some time for the taxi to fill up. (Unless you’re traveling on a less traveled route or late in the evening, the vehicle should fill up quickly.)
If you’ll be travelling through a scenic area, make sure plans for stopping along the way are clear.
Where to find a Grand Taxi in Morocco?
You might ask yourself if there are any specific taxi stations or if shared taxis are available anywhere on the street in Morocco? In fact, Grands Taxis can be found at the ports, bus stations, train stations and near the big hotels in the cities. You can also easily search « Grand Taxi » in Google Maps to find many of the different Grand Taxi « spot » in any given city.
Are Grands Taxis safe and/or comfortable?
Grand Taxi drivers often have a fearless attitude. They don’t mind overtaking blind corners and, unless the police are in sight, speed limits are more like loose « guidelines » than actual rules. Taking this into consideration, nightly road trips are best avoided.
Seatbelts and air conditioning used to be a rarity in the old 70-80s cars. However, on many routes, older cars are being replaced with newer taxi cabs. Some may say that putting your seat belt on will be viewed as an insult to the driver. Be reassured. As long as you put it on before the trip starts, nobody should take offense. Drivers often drive with open windows; therefore traveling by Grand Taxi in the off-season can be very cold. Similarly, it can get very hot very fast in the summertime.
How much does taking the Grand Taxi cost and how to negotiate a fare?
All in all, taxis in Morocco are very cheap, actually one of the cheapest taxi fares in the world.
|EXAMPLES OF ROUTE||DISTANCE||TOTAL PRICE FOR ALL 6 SEATS|
|Merzouga to Fez||466 km, one way||1100 dhs|
|Agadir to Taroudannt||80 km, one way||162 dhs|
|Tangier to Chefchaouen||220 km, return||490 dhs|
|Fez to Chefchaouen||200 km, one way||444 dhs|
|Tangier to Asilah||52 km, one way||115 dhs|
|Casablanca to Marrakech||237 km, one way||526 dhs|
When arriving at a Grand Taxi « station, » there is often a person in the group of drivers who leads the communication with the tourists. You should negotiate with that person and make sure he understands the price you’re willing to pay.
Some rules to know:
- Always negotiate the price before getting in the taxi.
- Always have a price ready before you start the negotiations.
- Have a walk-away plan (a maximum price) ready: If you walk, they will often give you a better price and start a new negotiation.
- If you’ve got particularly heavy luggage, there might be a surcharge.
- There is an extra fee for a ride to/from the airport.
- The cost for all 6 seats should always be six times the cost for one place.
- It’s not necessary to give tips, but you can round up to the nearest 5 dirhams. For longer trips, give 10, 20, or 30 dhs, depending on the distance.
Choosing between taking the Grand Taxi, the train or the bus
Deciding between taking the train and the Grand Taxi is an easy choice for most. The train is a lot more comfortable than the taxi, and it’s much cheaper. When there are no trains, buses usually serve the major routes. Although they are a little cheaper, there are few buses and don’t allow for a flexible scheduling of your day. Taking the Grand Taxi will give you freedom and bring a bit of adventure to your trip to Morocco!!
Is there Uber in Morocco?
There was a time when Uber was present in Morocco but this is no longer the case today. Careem, an app from the UAE and mostly used in the Arab world, is the most used ride-hailing app. (Don’t worry! It’s practically the same as Uber.) It is however not fully functional. Careem operates mainly in Casablanca, Rabat, and Tangier and is not always efficient.
Taking the Petit Taxi in Morocco
Petits Taxis are smaller cars used to take short rides within the city. They have a maximum capacity of three. (Meaning that if you are +4 people, you won’t be able to ride in the same taxi.) A lot of Moroccan Petit Taxi drivers refuse to stop for 3 passengers as they make more money taking only 1 or 2 passengers AND adding a 3rd passenger along the way.
A trip within the city center shouldn’t be more than 10 dirhams. The best way to prevent being ripped off is to make sure the taxi meter is set. If the taxi driver doesn’t want to start it, try to negotiate for a specific fare before yu leave. Here is a tip: if you meet a driver you like, tip him well and take his number for any future need.
Grands and Petits Taxis are a convenient and adventurous way to travel through Morocco. You should definitely try it at least once during your trip to North Africa. You only have to take a seat and enjoy the ride!