Let's face it, whether you're visiting or living on the island, getting around Martinique is difficult if you don't own a car. And when you do, you have to be patient in the frequent traffic jams on the main roads.

Land roads in Martinique

Martinique, which is not very large - just 1,105 km square kilometers (432 m²) - has a road network of over 2,100 kilometers, including 632 linear kilometers. Most of these roads are managed by the Collectivité Territoriale de la Martinique (C.T.M.).

La Trinité road, RN1Martinique's roads are divided between freeways, national roads, departmental roads and communal roads. With its modern, well-maintained roads,Martinique is one of the Caribbean's most advanced islands in terms of infrastructure, with modern, well-maintained roads providing satisfactory mobility throughout its territory. As a result, it's easy to get from one point to another.

European, national and local funds finance roadworks and maintenance.

While road management and maintenance are mainly the responsibility of the CTM, communal roads are the responsibility of the municipalities.

The different types of roads are as follows:

  • The A1 expressway runs between Le Lamentin (airport) and the capital Fort-de-France (Dillon). It is only 7 kilometers long, but provides access to the main influential and commercial areas in the center of the island. (Aimé Césaire International Airport, the Lézarde industrial and commercial zone, the Petit-Manoir zone, the Places d'Armes commercial zone, the Les Mangles d'Acajou industrial and commercial zone, the Acajou commercial zone, the Californie commercial zone, La Jambette, Châteaubœuf, the Rivière-Roche artisanal and commercial zone and the Dillon commercial zone).
  • 10 national roads:
    • National roads of Martinique - Google photo credit
    • The RN1, the island's longest national road, is around 73 kilometers long and links Le Lamentin, in the Mangles Acajou area, to the town of Basse-Pointe, via the Atlantic coastal zone.
    • The RN2, 39 kilometers long, links Fort-de-France at the Rocade (D41) and Morne-Rouge, passing through the Caribbean coastal zone.
    • The RN3, around 43 kilometers long, part of which is the famous Route de la Trace, or Route de Balata, starts at the Rocade and ends at Ajoupa-Bouillon.
    • The RN4, about 28 kilometers long, starts in downtown Fort-de-France and ends in Trinité, at the RN1.
    • The RN5, around 27 kilometers long, is an extension of the A1 freeway from the airport to the south of the island, in the commune of Le Marin.
    • The RN6, around 35 kilometers long, also links Le Lamentin from the airport to Le Marin, but this time via the Atlantic coast, passing through Le François.
    • The RN7, only 1.5 kilometers long, is the island's smallest national road, serving the Petit-Bourg district of Rivière-Salée.
    • The RN8, about 28 kilometers long, is another option for getting to Le Marin. It links Petit-Bourg (Rivière-Salée district) to the southern commune. Much less busy than the RN5, it passes through Le Saint-Esprit.
    • The RN9, about 4 kilometers long, links the south-western districts of Fort-de-France.
    • Finally, the RN2006, about 6.5 kilometers long, crosses the Morne-Pitault district between Le Lamentin and Le François. It begins at Brasserie Lorraine and ends at the La Manzo barrage.
  • There are 70 departmental roads, 21 of which are in Fort-de-France. These roads can be used to connect neighborhoods in larger towns or communes, or to join communes together. They are also a great option for avoiding or bypassing traffic jams on national roads.
  • Communal roads are those found in the neighborhoods of different communes. They are maintained by the communes.

The roads are more or less flat, depending on where you are. While roads in the north are often hilly due to the relief, they are flatter in the center and south of the island, except near Montagne du Vauclin, the highest point in the south.

Public transport and mobility on the island are managed and organized by the CTM, also via Martinique Transport. Martinique Transport is responsible for urban transportation, intercity passenger transportation (taxicos), maritime transportation, school transportation and transportation for disabled students.

Transport is also organized by the communities of communes (Communauté d'Agglomération du CEntre de la Martinique (C.A.C.E.M.), Communauté d'Agglomération de l'Espace Sud (C.A.E.S.M.), Communauté d'Agglomération de Communes du Nord de la Martinique (called CAP Nord Martinique). They are solely responsible for the management of inter-municipal transport.

Maritime routes in Martinique

Being an island, it is also possible to get around Martinique via the surrounding sea. Maritime transportation exists specifically to connect the coastal towns, which have a port capable of accommodating shuttles only on the Caribbean coast. The Atlantic zone is not suitable for shuttles due to high swell.

Taxi-Cap boat from Cap Chevalier to îlet ChevalierShuttles allow you to go from a town to Fort-de-France (for example the shuttle between the beaches of Trois-Îlets and Fort-de-France) or even fishing canals or small boats exist in the tourist context for visit the islets (mostly Robert and François islets) which surround Martinique.

Private vehicles

Between 15,000 and 20,000 new vehicles are sold each year, most often to individuals for their personal needs (going to work, leisure) or to professionals such as utilities, car rental companies or also the transporters of goods or people. Indeed, although there has been an improvement in public transport services in Martinique, the private car remains the simplest transport tool for getting around the island.

With a concentration of tertiary employment in the municipalities in the center of the island, traffic jams are significant and inevitable during rush hours, with most workers using their personal car to get to their place of work. The main road between the south and the center is very congested from 6 A.M. and you have to be patient and courageous every day. Rebelote in the evening for the “southerners” on the way back.

The same applies to workers and students wishing to travel to Fort-de-France from the North Atlantic and the Caribbean.

At rush hour, Martinique's freeway is the most congested road in the whole of France, after the Parisian peripherique (ring road).

Car-pooling is still on the back burner. It is even common for several people from the same household to travel to the center of the island, each using a private vehicle.

The use of two-wheeled motorized vehicles remains much more limited, and is mainly confined to a younger clientele.

Public transportation

Bien que des progrès notables aient été faits en Martinique au cours des dernières années notamment en raison de la mise en service du Transport Collectif en Site Propre, les transports en commun restent en retrait en Martinique. Plusieurs raisons sont en cause, le manque de liaisons entre les communes et les points stratégiques de l'île, les trop nombreux mouvements sociaux, le manque de ponctualité des différentes lignes.

Un habitant du nord souhaitant se rendre à Places d'armes au Lamentin pour un rendez-vous important ferait mieux de s'y rendre via son véhicule personnel que de compter sur les transports locaux qui restent incertains. Il en est de même pour un habitant des Trois-Îlets voulant aller à Sainte-Marie.

The T.C.S.P.

TCSP in Fort-de-France stationInaugurated on August 13, 2018, the Transport Collectif en Site Propre (T.C.S.P.) was launched with the aim of decongesting Fort-de-France and reducing the number of vehicles between Lamentin airport and the city center. More than 380 million euros were needed to complete the work, which began in 2003.

With a length of 13.9 km, the TSCP has two lines, A (between Almadies Bô Bakannal and Carrère) and B (between Almadies Bô Bakannal and Mahault). A total of 18 stations are served, with the majority of stops providing access to the commercial and industrial zones along the A1 expressway.

Three additional lines are planned for the future, with expansions to Schœlcher, Le Robert and Rivière-Salée.

Transport between communes and Fort-de-France

Fort-de-France cab rankWhen you live in a municipality, it's sometimes easier to get to Fort-de-France than to neighboring communes.

The "taxicos", minibuses with 8 to 20 seats, frequently link the towns of the communes to downtown Fort-de-France.

The TCSP consists of 14 bi-articulated Van Hool ExquiCity24 buses, equipped with a hybrid drive train (diesel/electric) and 60 drivers. The Vinci Group is in charge of infrastructure maintenance (stations, interchanges and maintenance center) until 2035.

In the south, to relieve congestion in Fort-de-France, taxicabs will join the TCSP at Carrère (on the border between Lamentin and Ducos), which will then take care of the final delivery to Fort-de-France. The same applies to the communes of the Nord-Atlantique region, where taxicos benefit from the departure of line B at Mahault.

In the North Caribbean, there is no relay solution, so taxicos go directly to the Pointe Simon stop.

Cabs and cab companies, car rentals

While there are no chauffeur-driven car companies like Uber, it is possible to use a private cab to get around the island.

A large number of cab drivers are also available on arrival at the airport for those making this choice.

As far as car rental is concerned, a large number of companies (Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Saint-Pierre Location, Autoloc, etc.) are present in Martinique.

Maritime shuttles

Shuttle between Fort-de-France and Les Trois-ÎletsMaritime shuttles are operated by Vedettes Tropicales. They take you from Fort-de-France to Les Trois-Îlets (Pointe du Bout, bourg des Trois-Îlets, Anse Mitan, Anse à l'Âne) or Case-Pilote:

  • Fort-de-France to the village of Trois-Îlets (25-minute crossing, 35 minutes if you stop at the Pointe du Bout marina)
  • Fort-de-France to the Pointe du Bout marina (20 minutes, 35 if stopping at the town of Les Trois-Îlets)
  • Fort-de-France to Anses-Mitan and Anse à l'Âne (20 minutes, 35 minutes if stopping at Anse Mitan)
  • Fort-de-France to Case-Pilote (30 minutes)

Martinique's well-maintained road network makes it easy to get to your destination. The private car is still the most popular means of transport, creating numerous traffic jams in the center of the island and also in the south on the RN5 at Ducos-Petit-Bourg-Rivière-Salée.

Efforts have been made to improve land mobility, with better control of transport on the island, but the numerous industrial action movements and lack of regularity of service often discourage the population from seeing this as a sufficiently reliable solution to give up owning a private vehicle.

Maritime transport is still far too rare, despite its potential as an environmental solution. Only the Caribbean region can offer this type of service, due to the high waves and swell on the Atlantic coast. To date, several attempts have failed financially due to the lack of a sufficient customer base, fuel prices and boat maintenance, and have had no choice but to close down.