21 December 2012

Morocco: Casablanca Opens Tramway

Casablanca — Supporters of Casablanca's new tramway view its launch as an historic moment for the city.

Following years of construction, months of testing and the creation of hundreds of new jobs, the new Casablanca tramway is now in service.

Casa Transport Assistant General Manager Nadia Bouhriz was keen to point out that this new method of transportation has been a challenge, but that it was handled with great success. The new system launched on December 12th.

"The thirty months taken to complete this megaproject is a record for a 31km urban railway line," she told Magharebia at a meeting with the press on December 11th.

"This project goes hand in hand with the spirit of a city which sees itself as modern and able to compete with the great capital cities of the world," she added.

This first tram line crosses the city of Casablanca from east to west, linking the city's main districts.

Casablanca Mayor Mohamed Sajid urged people to show they are responsible citizens by using the tram.

"The public's involvement is important and central to the success of this new means of public transport," he said.

Casablanca Councillor Mostafa Adlin said he wants to see "the tram being used by the maximum number of passengers and reaching out to the city's outlying districts, allowing all Casablancans easy access to the city centre".

Addressing the issue of vandalism, Bouhriz said that significant security measures have been put in place in partnership with the wilaya's city police force to keep the tramway and its passengers safe.

To encourage responsible, public-spirited use of the system, a "Tram Expo" was held in mid-November. The expo highlighted the main aspects of the tramway's introduction, presenting economic information, talking about the environmental dimension, and giving practical information.

There are 48 stops along the line. Each multiple-unit tram is 65 metres in length and has room for 605 passengers. That equates to an expected number of 250,000 passengers a day using a fleet of 37 trams.

The final cost of the project is 5.9 billion dirhams from an initial budget of 6.4 billion dirhams (573 million euros) and created about 600 new jobs.

Before it was brought into service, tests were run for two months on the tramway's equipment and facilities, ensuring the trams ran smoothly and that there was full compatibility between the various pieces of equipment.

Teams of drivers, security officers and ticket inspectors received 1,850 hours of training in preparation for the launch.

The urban commune of Casablanca has fixed ticket prices at six dirhams, with plans for reductions of up to 30% for season tickets, particularly for public servants. Parking prices will be increased in the city centre to encourage drivers to favour the tram.

"It's a magnificent way of getting about," public servant Loubna said.

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