Rabat, December 26, 2012
The Tram has increased accessibility to young people fascinated by the Agdal, one of the most affluent areas of Rabat. However, this means of transportation has caused frustration for shop owners and managers of cafes, negatively impacted by the collapse of their business. For others, the tram is quite a good pretext for an anti-car policy.
Saturday, 3.10 p.m. The corner of Avenue de France, which crosses Avenue de Val Ould Oumeir in Rabat Agdal’s district is almost blocked. Traffic jams are not common at this time of the day. It was the passage of the Tram’s line 1 on both sides of the Avenue de France.
This is the line that has more pressure because it goes from Hay Karima (Salé) to the Agdal district (Rabat), going through downtown by the Avenue Al Alaouiyine. It thus connects the major centers in the city: Avenue Mohammed V in Salé, the district of ministries, ONCF stations (Rabat and Salé), schools and libraries between Bab Ruach and Ibn Zuhr, the Agdal district and finally the university grounds of Bab Al Irfane and Souissi hospital.
A dozen young people who came by tram are sitting in cafes around the Avenue de France. Mourad, 18, from Salé is satisfied with the connection between Rabat and Salé. “Before the tram, I could not come to the Agdal each week. Firstly, it is too expensive for me since I’m still a student. Secondly, I lose a lot of time searching for taxis in Salé and Rabat”says young Mourad, sipping a cup of coffee before adding ” Now I can come everyday thanks to a special pass for students, and it’s faster to come and drink coffee with my friends. “
Meriem, a saleswoman for cosmetic brand Yves Rocher, noted that the tram has attracted more young people who come to Agdal in groups. “Young people always came to Agdal, especially on Saturday nights. But with the tram, you see more teenagers who are attracted by the brand stores here, and the diversity of restaurants and cafes” she says.
The tram therefore attracts mostly young people, but not shop owners. Salma, the co-saleswoman for Yves Rocher has expressed her frustration with the passage of tram. “Even if the tram has many benefits, it is a challenge for us. Sales fell slightly because it takes longer for people to come due to traffic. We often lose our customers who would rather go to Megamall to avoid traffic jams.”
Mohammed, a valet working next to the Yves Rocher store shares the same frustrations. “Before there was too much movement. The cafes were full. I think putting the tram in narrow streets was not a good choice. People have trouble parking. Everyone loses at least 30 minutes looking for a spot to park their car.”
Three meters from Yves Rochet, cafes are practically empty. “It is normal for cafes to be empty at 3pm. Around 6pm, it will be full, especially with young people” said Omar, a cafe manager, adding that ” before the tram, there were a lot of employees and officials who used to come to cafes for a drink or to restaurants for lunch. But because of the parking problems, we see more young people who use the tram than these employees who drive cars.”