The tram has carried travelers on 273 million trips since it opened in May 2011, with an annual average of 32.9 million passenger trips.
Rome – Rabat’s tram service is operating on a deficit, with revenues making up 94.5% of its operating costs, the Society of the Rabat-Sale Tramway (STRS) has revealed.
At the same time, STRS Director General Said Zarrou says the tramway has completed an extension for Line 2 to carry passengers farther southwest into Rabat and northeast into the neighboring city of Sale.
Despite being unprofitable, STRS said the tram’s financial performance has been “good” since 2012.
The company explained to state-owned media Maghreb Arab Press on Monday, February 17, that most transportation systems around the world operate on deficits because transportation officials cannot raise prices above “socially acceptable levels.”
With ticket sales revenue paying for all but 5% of the tramway’s operating cost, STRS said their system is performing well in comparison to other comparable networks.
It remains to be seen if the added stops on Line 2 in Rabat and Sale, an MAD 1.7 billion ($175 million) project, will improve the company’s financial sustainability or drive the deficit deeper.
Individual ticket sales make up 73% of overall revenue, and subscription contracts contribute the rest. The tramway has 17,341 active subscription contracts, the majority belonging to students.
The tramway has managed to remain close to breaking even, STRS says, because of the system’s optimal layout, control of operating costs, and high passenger traffic.
The tram’s two lines in Rabat have carried travelers on 273 million trips since the tramway opened in May 2011, with an annual average of 32.9 million passenger trips.
On an average weekday, the tram carries 110,000 passengers. On the weekend, the tram carries an average of 70,000 passengers each day.
Expensive beautification projects
The finalized Line 2 added 2.4 kilometers of tracks and four stops in Rabat, reaching the populous Yacoub al Mansour neighborhood. On the Sale end of the line, the extension reaches Avenue Zarbia.
Before beginning operations, the extensions will undergo further testing.
Along with the tram extension, work is underway to give the area around the tram line in Sale a facelift, La Nouvelle Tribune reports.
Zarrou, who is also the director of the Bouregreg Valley development agency, said the tram extension created the opportunity to open a new 60-shop business center and a five-hectare public park. The park could be a new urban landmark, Zarrou said.
STRS has taken loans from both the Moroccan government and international donors to create the transportation system in Rabat. If the tram’s financial trend continues, it may be difficult for the tramway to repay its debts.