Saturday, January 18, 2014

How to get around Addis Ababa (Public Transport)

Public Transportation in Addis Ababa

There are yellow-red city-run buses, but they are usually crowded. Buying a ticket is bit complicated as you need to buy it before entering vehicle from a conductor leaning out of window. People usually swarm him and you will stand no chance. Ticket costs about 2.80 Birr.


White-blue (or just white) minibuses are the most convenient way to get around as their intervals are good and there are plenty of minibus connections and common places of change - the hubs. Minibuses run on their arranged routes, but you can get on and off at any point en route. The price is always 3.80 Birr for most of the trips, but you will rarely get your 20 cents back. Some longer trips could cost up to 7 Birr (e.g. Lafto-Mercato), incomplete routes (e.g. getting on or off after start or before end) can cost from 1.50 to 3 Birr. Minibus trips can be slower during peak hours as the traffic usually comes to halt at the intersections or around construction. Be prepared that some minibuses may take more people than they have seats, so it might feel crowded.

Getting on and getting off

To get on at one of the terminuses or hubs, just locate the departure point for your route or listen for the destination shouts of the conductors. To get on anywhere by the route just signal with your hand that you would like a minibus to stop. To get off a minibus, say "wouradzh aleh" and listen for a conductor to tell a driver the same thing.

Paying to a conductor

Every minibus has a conductor that will shout where the minibus is going and will later ask for money. Always tell your destination (usually referred to by a district/neighborhood name or landmark or the terminus) and have your money ready, preferrably small notes (ones, fives or tens).

Hubs and transfers

Minibuses have multiple hubs, where they converge or their routes intersect. One of the largest one is so called Mexico. Here you can find your connection to almost any part of Addis Ababa and its subcities. Other large hubs are Piazza and Meskel square. The map of the minibus routes is included as well as a sketch of the different departure points of the minibuses at Mexico (where the train construction confuses the changes).


Blue taxis offer more personalized service at higher prices. Price is always a contract price, so you will need to haggle (tell them to give you normal price, not the "ferenji price"). Try asking for half a price a taxi driver first states or at least 100 Birr less. Find places, where there are more taxis parked and go from car to car doing a price research. Some sample prices: Piazza (center)-Lafto (20 min. trip) 150 Birr, Bole Airport-Lafto (20 min. trip) 150 Birr. If you have luggage, taxi drivers will usually put it on the roof rack of their car, that is to be expected.

Bajajs (Tuk tuks, motorized rickshaws)

These small vehicles can take you around only in their respective neighborhoods/districts as they are banned from larger roads (e.g. Ring road). The prices vary, but if there are multiple passengers they charge 1.50 Birr. If you want to have a bajaj for yourself, expect to pay 30 Birr. Don't be shy and haggle as you would do with a taxi driver.

Addis Ababa light rail

There is light railway (or tram system) under construction as of January 2014. The construction works are all around city as the light railway partially replaces the train network that Addis no longer has. Light railway system in Addis Ababa is to be finished and launched in 2016.

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