Casa with fewer cars
Big investments in public transport should transform the lives of commuters in the next few years
Regular roadworks and the rising number of cars owned by the middle classes make traffic snarl in Casablanca, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. The city’s tramway is a key piece of infrastructure to get the city’s population to and from work, their homes and leisure activities. Launched to much fanfare in 2012 and costing $550m, the T1 line of the tram is now 31km long and carries an average of 120,000 people per day. The T2 line is set to link the seaside resorts of Ain Diab in the west to the working-class neighbourhood of Sidi Bernoussi, next to the airport in the east, with a travel time of just over an hour. The Casa public transport sector is small but growing fast. Transport is due to eat up a big share of the funds the city plans to devote to its 20182022 development plan, which has a global cost of D52bn ($5.4bn). The Casablanca authorities predict that the addition of three new lines, one of which will be operational before the end of the year, will boost daily traveller numbers to 400,000 – for a Greater Casablanca population of nearly five million people – by 2022. By then, the tram network will have more than tripled in size to 107km. France’s RATP Dev won a $497m contract late last year to manage and develop the tramway system. Casa Transport director Youssef Draiss says the goal is to reduce waiting times to between five and 10 minutes. While the tram works create many temporary jobs, Casa Transport says the T1 line employs about 600 people directly. French companies RATP and Alstom, which manufactures the tram cars, have been the big winners in terms of contracts so far. Other firms have a chance to make their mark. Another element of the city’s transport development is the planned launch of a bus rapid transit (BRT) network by 2020. BRT vehicles travel in dedicated lanes to allow them to travel faster. The government launched a bidding round for the two lines in May and is set to make a decision on the contract before the end of the year. For those stuck in rush-hour traffic jams, the relief cannot come soon enough.
A gleaming new Alstom tram on the already operational Line 1