You’ve seen the white cars with writing on the side, perhaps honking at you as you pick your way along Amman’s streets or stand waiting for an ordinary taxi. You’ve also heard lovely things about their fixed prices. But how exactly do you take one? Read on for how to take a service taxi, or servees.
If any of what follows sounds daunting, just know that the vast majority of servees drivers will be friendly and helpful. You just need to be proactive about knowing where you’re going, or making sure the driver does. And if you start taking the same routes regularly enough, you might even start making friends with some of the drivers.
1. Know the route
Service taxis (usually) travel along fixed routes between two “stations,” which can be an official bus station or a less formal gathering point. You can always ask a driver where he is going and how he’s getting there, even if that requires hailing the service taxi mid-route as you would a normal taxi. The more you get around the city, the faster you learn the routes and their names, which are written on the side of the taxi.
2. Pay the fare
Most service taxis cost between 30 and 50 qirsh. Sometimes the fare will be written on paper somewhere on the front windshield, or else the driver or another passenger can tell you. No matter where you board or exit, the cost is the same. Hand your fare to the driver shortly after getting in, or he will start playing with change as a subtle sign that it’s time to pony up.
3. Alight where you wish
When you want to be dropped off, tell the driver, “Ya36ik al-3afiya,” and he should swerve to the side of the road within a few seconds. Alternatively, you can simply ask to be let off, although the other phrase is more culturally fitting.
4. Enjoy the characters
You can never predict with whom you will share a service taxi. In short doses, that old man pontificating on the deeper meaning of life, complaining about the government, or sharing his opinion on you-can’t-quite-understand-what can be immensely entertaining. Servees rides are a chance to hear stories you otherwise never would.
5. Ladies, up front!
In yellow taxis, women do not customarily sit in the front seat. With service taxis, depending on the gender composition of riders, it can be the exact opposite. If three men and one woman are riding, they and the driver will usually insist that the woman be given the front seat. In fact, it would be strange if they did not.
Check back soon for a map of Amman’s service taxis!