Monday,23 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1353, (20 - 26 July 2017)
Monday,23 October, 2017
Issue 1353, (20 - 26 July 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Taxi buses

Mai Samih goes for a ride in one of the new CTA buses, a possible alternative to passenger cars and taxis

new CTA buses
new CTA buses

After the recent increase in gas prices which have become too steep for many people who own cars, the government decided to address the problem by providing decent alternatives for transport. The latest idea is air-conditioned buses belonging to the Cairo Transport Authority (CTA), featuring better services for those living in Cairo for a fee of LE5.  

Governor of Cairo Atef Abdel-Hamid told the daily Al-Ahram that government agencies were doing their best to increase the number of buses in the CTA fleet to provide a decent service for residents of the capital and its visitors. The resources come from the state budget and in partnership with the private sector to provide new international brand buses and minibuses with high efficiency and modern capabilities to encourage a larger segment of the population to leave their cars behind and use the public service which contributes to easing traffic on the streets of the capital, Abdel-Hamid said.

Abdel-Hamid said the company will release 40 minibuses during the current month as a replacement, and 40 buses before the end of this year. Some older buses will be revamped.

The buses and minibuses are air-conditioned and equipped with electronic services such as Wi-Fi and prepaid cards with internal screens to identify upcoming stations and estimated arrival times. Coverage will extend to all districts and outskirts of the capital, Abdel-Hamid added.

CTA Chairman Rizk Mustafa gives more details about the new fleet of buses. “The fleet will have air conditioners, Wi-Fi, smart card service, and a digital voice clock like the ones in metro stations,” Mustafa said. “They will also be provided with a GPS system to ensure that a driver does not exceed the speed limit and to make sure he takes the predetermined route by tracking the movement of the bus.”

CTA partnered with an Egyptian private sector company to provide the buses. So far nine have been released, serving the 111 lines. They take the Ramses Square route, passing by Dawaran Shubra, then go to Cairo Airport. The company has signed a contract for 40 buses, Mustafa said, adding that the present ones operate along the Cairo Airport-Dawaran Shubra. They will also operate from Cairo Airport-Mazalat and Cairo Airport-Imbaba, Obour City, Banat and Ain Shams, all of which are also probable future lines. The launch took place a month ago with three lines going to and from Cairo International Airport. 

Mustafa draws a comparison between the new and old buses. “What makes these buses better is that the older ones were only air-conditioned without Wi-Fi. The private company buses were the only ones with Wi-Fi. The new ones, however, include Wi-Fi services,” says Mustafa.

“Paying LE5 as a fee for these buses is much better than taking a taxi,” one passenger who chose to remain anonymous told Al-Ahram Weekly. “I am happy with the new bus especially that there is a Wi-Fi service and air-conditioning. Going for a ride in such a bus was a unique experience for me. I tried it once and I’m looking forward to seeing more buses in other areas in Cairo,” the passenger said, concerned, however, that no proper maintenance of these buses will be done in the future.

Mustafa says he is certain this will not occur in the future. “The services in the new buses are guaranteed to last longer since there are two kinds of inspection — the CTA inspectors and the inspectors from the Collective Transport Project. If any of the services in these buses are found not operating well and are neither reported nor fixed, the buses will be breaking the regulations and will be excluded from the LE5 service and be reduced to an ordinary LE2.5 bus. Since this bus is supposed to have advantages that no ordinary bus has and since a person pays LE5 for a ride in it he should get the service for his money. In general, we target people who would otherwise take taxis in Cairo.”

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