Rabat- Amid a major boycott protesting high commodity prices, Spanish transport firm ALSA announced an increase in its ticket prices from MAD 4 to 5, a decision that will not go unnoticed.
The consequences of the boycott has not prevented the company from making what some might see as a risky decision that could anger people who use public transport.
On Wednesday, July 25, the company announced it signed a new 15-year contract with Morocco’s Al Assima group, which manages the kingdom’s urban transport.
While the agreement aims to alleviate traffic congestion in the Rabat-Sale metropolitan area, the increase in ticket prices by MAD 1 comes at an awkard time.
More increases ahead
Passengers should expect more increases as the MAD 5 price is stipulated for only four years of the contract.
The contract states that the ticket price will be raised to MAD 5.5 from the fifth year until the eighth year and will reach MAD 6 in the ninth year.
Public transport complaints remain a concern in Morocco, as those who lack the means have been urging the government to improve connectivity and mobility of transport options.
Over the last ten years, urban transport in the neighboring cities of Rabat, Sale, Skhirat, and Temara experienced a decreased quality of service at the hands of the French Veolia company, which broke its contract in 2009.
End of Stareo?
Al Assima pledged to invest MAD 150 million for ALSA City to add 430 buses by the seventh year.
The agreement also promises to create job opportunities for local drivers as ALSA wants to train and recruit 1,607 employees working with the current bus company in the region, Stareo, to improve the quality of human resources.
After Veolia withdrew from its operations by breaking its contract, Stareo took over the management of the city buses in 2009.
However, Stareo could not meet the demands of citizens, a situation that led Al Assima to launch a call for tender to attract a new transport company in January 2018.
ALSA, which operates in four large cities in Morocco, won the offer after several months of negotiations.
The company has a total of 653 buses in Morocco; 206 in Agadir, 257 in Marrakech, 150 in Tangier, and 40 in Khouribga, a city 130 kilometers southeast of Casablanca.
Rise of prices and the boycott campaign
Moroccan citizens have battled with price increases on fuel, mineral water, and dairy products, which lead to the ongoing boycott targeting three leading companies, namely Sidi Ali (mineral water), Centrale Danone (dairy), and Afriquia gasoline. The boycott began April 20.
Moroccan consumers have pulled together against these companies that they consider have set high prices without considering consumers’ purchasing power.
The rise in bus prices could prove an issue for regular passengers from modest backgrounds who usually take buses, instead of taxis or tramways, given that they are the cheapest transportation in Moroccan cities.