Transportation Field Note

How do people get around?

People get around in a variety of ways here in Amman. The most popular way for adults to get around is by car. Since Amman in the capital of Jordan, there are lots of cars on the streets and the traffic is quite bad. It’s also a struggle to find a parking space if you have a car, just like when you try to find a parking space in New York City. Most the students take a bus or a taxi to school. There are several types of buses as well as two different types of taxis.

First, there is a small bus that seats about twenty people. These buses are everywhere and drop people off at the main intersections in Amman. To ride the bus costs about 35-40 qirsh, or cents. These buses don’t have a set schedule and there are a couple different routes so you have to ask where the bus is headed before you get on. The second type of bus is larger, similar to the Metro buses in big cities in the United States. The front of the bus says where it is going, both in English and in Arabic. These buses actually go to the main bus stations in Amman and are slightly more expensive because they go to the outskirts of the city. They do not just hit the main sections like the small buses do. Despite being more expensive, the total cost is only around 55 qirsh, not even the equivalent to one US Dollar. Finally, there are small yellow buses that are only for students who go to private universities.

The most common taxi is the yellow taxi. The starting fare is 25 qirsh and then it goes up by either 2 or 3 qirsh every so often. It’s a combination of time and distance but I still haven’t figured out exactly how the fare increases. After 11:00PM, the fare starts at 30 qirsh and increases at a steeper rate than during the day. Since not all of them have TAXI written on a light on top of the taxi like in the United States, you know whether a yellow car is a taxi by the green stamp on the side of the car. The Mumayyaz Taxisecond type of taxi is called Mumayyaz taxi. It’s a silver car, which is more expensive than the yellow taxi. Mumayyaz taxis can be called ahead of time to pick you up and their drivers speak more English than regular drivers. It is very useful to use these taxis if you are traveling late at night because they are safer than the yellow taxis.

Finally, if you only have to go a short distance, you can walk. Walking is the least common way to get around and biking is almost never used as a method of transportation. Luckily, there are pedestrian tunnels and bridges so you don’t have to cross highway-like streets.

How did I feel when I tried this way of getting around?

I have had a variety of experiences using different methods of transportation in Jordan. At first, I only used the yellow taxis because I was afraid to use the bus system. Some taxi drivers are very friendly and ask me where I’m from, why I’m in Jordan and try to teach me Arabic. One time, I became frustrated with my taxi driver because he didn’t have change when I paid with a 5 or 10 JD bill. Another time, I was scared because my taxi driver didn’t know the area that I lived in and we were lost. But for the majority of the time, I’ve had pleasant experiences. I’ve had excellent experiences using the Mumayyaz taxis, although I don’t normally use them because they’re more expensive.

Although I was originally scared of the bus system, once I tried it I began to like it. It might take slightly longer, but I’ve had no issues and it is very affordable compared to the taxis. But keep in mind, taxis in Jordan are much less expensive than taxis in the United States.

Is this way of getting around connected the culture and environment? How?

Amman is built on seven mountains and the entire city is very hilly. Therefore, it is easy to see why walking and biking are not common methods of transportation. Jordan is also a poor country, so the buses are very affordable for the majority of the population. Buses and taxis are also very popular because of the gas shortages in Jordan. About three to four months ago, there were gas shortages and the prices increased dramatically. The prices for the taxis went up because of the shortages. Since gas is expensive to buy, it is cheaper to use a taxi or bus service than to fill up your car with a tank of gas. Jordan is very dependent on its resources and they play an important part in everyday life.

An interesting fact about Jordanians is related to their license plates. License plates are a status symbol here. The lower the number is on your license plate, the more money you have. Can you see who has more money by looking at the license plates below?

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