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Public Transport in Tunisia, Taxis, Autobus, Trains and Louages


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The public local and long-distance transport system in Tunisia consists of bus, rail, collective taxis and individual taxis.


Individual Taxis

All Taxis in Tunisia have a yellow color and a sign with a number on the roof. Thery are almost always limousines, mostly compact size, but you also can find small taxi buses with 4 seats, which can carry larger luggage as well.

All taxis are fitted with taxi meters that must be turned on during a trip. At night (from about 2100 clock), an approximately 50% higher rate will be applied.

Taxi driving is, for westerners, in Tunisia quite inexpensive.

However, taxi drivers will often, specifically in the tourist areas try to achieve higher fares by suggesting to pay a fixed fee (which is almost always higher than the normal price), by applying the nighttime fare in the day, or by asking for special fees (eg. extra payment for luggage).

A passenger should, therefore, always insist that the meter is being turned on and refuse fixed prices and payment for additional unjustified services.
Since some drivers will then deny the transport, a passenger might need to either ask another driver or, especially in tourist areas and much recommended by the author, not pick a standing (waiting at a taxi stop) taxi, but a taxi that drives empty (unoccupied) along the street.

Almost every native knows the taxi fares for most distances, so it is useful to ask someone about the regular prices to the destination (small differences may occur due to technical reasons or traffic conditions).

Most taxi drivers will only speak arabic and french, in the tourist areas, some will also speak some broken english or german.

If you have found a taxi driver that you are comfortable with, ask for his telephone number and you can then call him for more rides.

Hint: In Tunisia, when native women take a taxi alone, they will usually ride in the back of the taxi to prevent the driver from getting "strange ideas".
Collective Taxis (Louages)

Collective taxis are minibuses with 8 or 9 seats, or compact cars with 5 seats. Louages that go from one town to another are usually painted in white color with a red stripe on the flanks of the car.

In some cities, there are also collective taxis with differently colored stripes - mostly for  urban routes and, as well, yellow cars with blue side stripes (as opposed to normal individual yellow taxis, which have no side strips).

Collective taxis are driving more or less fixed routes. They are waiting in the main stations/stops ("Station de Louages"), until all or at least most seats are occupied and will then proceed along a fixed route. The passengers can get on and off at any time and will pay the driver for the ride before leaving the car (sometimes, in the large stations, even ahead of departure). Fares should be paid in change, since the drivers usually cannot exchange banknotes.

The fares are fixed and very low, but sometimes drivers will demand higher fares from tourists, which can be prevented by asking other passengers about the fee in advance.

It is also possible to completely "rent" a Louage, by paying for all the seats in the car and then drive, so to say, along the route as a "private taxi". Likewise, one can also pay for unoccupied seats to prevent the driver from waiting until the car has filled up completely.


Louages are known in many countries of the world, but have in each one another name, for example:

- Circulator, jitney, shuttle service (USA)
- Demand Responsive Transport (UK)
- Marshrutka (маршрутка, Russia)
- Songthaew (สองแถว, Thailand)
- Carros públicos (Puerto Rico)
- Deeltaxi (Netherlands)
- Sammeltaxi (Germany)
- Matatu (Kenya)
- Taxi collettivo (Italy)
- Monit Sherut (,מוֹנִית שֵׂרוּת, Israel)
- Public light bus (Hong Kong )
- Mashrou' (مشروع, Egypt)
- Jitney (Canada)
- Taxi collectif (Canada, Algeria)
- Táxi-lotação (Brazil)
Autobus

All major towns in Tunisia are connected by a bus network, usually served 1-2 times per day by air-conditioned large buses.

In bigger cities, there are also bus lines serving destinations in the city. Such buses can be quite full at certain times of the day (rush hours).

Bus stops on the route are often not widely recognized, sometimes there is a waiting hut,  sometimes just a marker, usually without any price information or timetables. It is nurmally also possible, to enter or exit the us between stations, eg. when the distance between them is quite large (signal by hand sign in the road or, in the bus, by asking the driver to stop).

Buses need to be entered in the back only, because that is where the conductor is sitting. The fares for buses are low, about as high as those for collective taxis for a comparable distance.


Trains / Railway

In Tunisia, there are several railway lines, which connect at least the larger cities several times a day, mostly quite on time. The routes are operated with diesel locomotives at speeds of ca. 150km/h (100 mph).

The first class compartments are air conditioned and require only a small surcharge against a ticket for the second class - booking First Class is therefore strongly recommended for long rides.
Tickets are normally bought in the station, but it is also possible to buy them with the conductor on the train.

On weekends, the trains are usually full and  seat reservations ahead of time are strongly recommended. At school and work start and end times the metro trains (Sousse-Mahdia and Tunis-La Marsa), are also very well frequented.

For the approximately 150km (100 miles) long route Tunis-Sousse, the train needs ca. 2 hours and the fare in the 1st class will be about 6 Euro (6 UKP / 8 USD) per person and one way.

In the south (between Gafsa and Tozeur), there is a well known and popular tourist train, the "Lezard Rouge", which runs a scenic route through a canyon.

See here Train schedules long distance lines and short distance lines (including Metro Sousse-Mahdia)


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