Transport and Driving in Jordan
Expats in Jordan do not have many choices when it comes to transportation. Most roads are in good condition, but unpredictable Jordanian drivers make getting behind the wheel a less-than-appealing option. Meanwhile, the country's mountainous terrain largely rules out cycling and walking as forms of transport.
Taxis are popular with locals and expats alike and are useful for everyday transport, while buses are ideal for getting from city to city.
Public transport in Jordan
While Jordan is a highly developed country in areas such as education and health, its public transportation infrastructure is lacking. However, expats will find that with planning and patience it is nevertheless possible to get from point A to point B using public transport.
There is only one passenger train in operation in Jordan: a steam train running along the Hedjaz Jordan Railway, which goes daily from Amman to Damascus in Syria and back. With the railway's long and fascinating history, a trip along this route is more for the experience of the ride rather than any practical use. However, due to the war in Syria, the railway's operations are currently suspended.
Mini-buses are shared taxis which carry seven to nine passengers. They are known locally as servees and can be frustrating to use as they do not follow regular timetables. Rather, drivers will wait until they have a full complement of passengers. While this is not too much of an inconvenience on popular and well-used routes which fill up quickly, expats planning on taking more obscure routes will usually be in for a long wait. Once a mini-bus is full, it will depart and will generally only stop along the way if a passenger asks them to.
Expats in need of a bus service that adheres to a timetable should make use of JETT buses rather than relying on mini-buses. Apart from the benefit of predictable and reliable timing, JETT buses also offer passengers a comfortable journey with air-conditioning and toilets onboard.
Taxis in Jordan
A popular and cost-effective way of getting around, taxis are the main form of transport for many in Jordan, especially in Amman. Taxis are typically yellow in colour.
Expats should be aware that taxi fares in Jordan are anything but straightforward. Firstly, prices are usually in fils, not dinars – and taxi drivers are unlikely to correct anyone who mistakenly pays in dinars.
If the taxi has a meter, make sure the driver turns it on as this will usually be cheaper than paying a set price for the ride. However, while metered taxis are abundant in Amman, taxis in the rest of Jordan seldom have meters. In this case, it is necessary to negotiate a flat fare – expats should do so before getting into the taxi.
When negotiating a fare for a group, taxi drivers are notorious for quoting a seemingly low price for the ride and later claiming that the quoted price was per person. Be sure to clarify this before accepting.
Driving in Jordan
Driving in Jordan is not for the faint-of-heart. Although most roads are in good condition and are signposted in both Arabic and English, Jordanian drivers have a reputation for driving erratically and unpredictably.
The roads are full of hazards, from unmarked speed bumps to wandering livestock such as sheep, donkeys or camels – in fact, livestock collisions are one of the most common causes of car accidents in Jordan.
At night, the roads are poorly lit and many local drivers are of the opinion that driving without headlights makes it easier to see. This makes it inadvisable to drive after dark unless absolutely necessary.
Cycling in Jordan
Cycling in Jordan can be hazardous – not only do motorists in Jordan lack knowledge of cycle safety, but there is little to no cycling infrastructure in even the most developed parts of the country. Jordan's hot and stifling weather along with the constant dips and rises in the landscape also make for an unsuitable place to use cycling as a regular mode of transport.