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With a total population of over 4 million, it’s somewhat surprising that Amman does not have a more developed transport system. The majority of locals drive, and those who do not primarily use taxis. As a visitor or expat living in Amman, chances are you will need to rely on taxis to get around the city, so mastering how to use one is absolutely essential. Here are our top tips for how to get and use a taxi in Amman.
There are two main choices you have when it comes to taxis in Amman, your first and most obvious choice being the yellow taxi, which you can find driving around the city and hail down whenever the need arises. Your second choice is downloading an app like Uber or Careem, which will allow you to request a car to your location from your phone via satellite navigation.
There are around 11,000 yellow taxis in Amman. They work largely as you would expect: upon hailing one down you should tell them where you want to go and payment will be made at the end of the journey.
If you are a man then you will be expected to sit in the front next to the driver, and if you are a woman you should generally sit in the back seat. This is just a matter of courtesy.
Once you have entered the taxi and told the driver where you want to go, make sure the meter is on. This will calculate the price of the fare according to time and distance. If you’re told the meter is broken or the driver refuses to switch it on then don’t feel pressured to accept, it is illegal for a yellow taxi to drive without one so either tell him so or take another cab!
Make sure you have small change with you when you take a taxi, anything larger than a 5 JD note will generally not be accepted by the driver.
There will be some instances, such as public holidays or Thursday evenings, when everyone in Amman will want to get a taxi at the same time. During these times you can expect to wait a while and may even be refused if you’re headed to a busy area or in a different direction to where the driver wants to go. Be patient and prepared to wait in traffic even if you do manage to get a taxi—this is just one of those things which come with living in a busy city!
Another option you have is the taxi apps Uber and Careem. Although they are not technically legal in Amman, they operate freely in the city and even if stopped by the police, as a customer, you will not face any penalties. Although they do cost more than the yellow taxis, the service they offer is worth the extra cash, so it’s recommended that you download at least one, if not both of the apps to your phone.
From the app you can simply order a car straight to your location and it will arrive to you in good time depending on traffic and demand. From the app you will see how far the driver is on a map, and have access to the driver’s contact details in case you need to contact him. One huge benefit is that you can request a fare estimate from the app itself, meaning there are no surprises or negotiations at the end of your journey.
The cars they use are always fairly new, in clean condition, and air-conditioning is always available. One thing to watch out for, however, is surge prices. The app will notify you when there is a particularly high demand from customers. In this case, it is a good idea is to have both apps for comparative purposes.
Careem also often gives promo codes and discounts so make sure to keep an eye on your text messages for those.
With the rising popularity of taxi apps, there is mounting pressure on yellow taxis to step up their game. In response to this a new app under the name of Jo Taxi will be launching. The app will effectively impose the same rules of accountability onto yellow taxis, as well as provide training for drivers and awarding prizes for good work ethic. The app will be launched eminently and it is hoped that it will change the taxi landscape for the better.