The Egyptian economy suffers an annual loss of EGP 50bn (4% of GDP), according to a World Bank study issued last year, all of which can be attributed to traffic. These losses have resulted from fuel consumption in traffic, congestion, environmental pollution, and the wearing out of tyres.
In an attempt to cut down the frequency of traffic jams and encourage car owners to abandon their private vehicles and use public transportation, the Public Transport Authority has secured new buses equipped with WiFi—but their attempts have been in vain. The drivers and conductors of these buses were no different; their reckless driving style remained the same and they refused to sit down and instead continued to hang out the doors to call for passengers.
On the horizon, a new technology-based idea has presented itself as a solution. Amr El-Sawy, CEO of Buseet, watched Egyptians suffer through poor transportation for years—since Ahmed Adwia’s famous song in the 1980s: “Zahma ya donia zahma” (“The world is crowded”).
El-Sawy began thinking about finding a new solution for traffic that tackles both ends of the equation: low cost, yet comfortable transportation. He believes that Egyptians have had just two choices: ride taxis or private transportation cars such as Uber and Careem, or put up with the agony of buses.
Buseet was his new idea: public transportation buses that can be booked online. Clients could book their seats in advance, pay online, and enjoy their ride in new comfortable, air-conditioned buses.
El-Sawy told Daily News Egypt his service was launched officially on Wednesday, beginning with one route between 6th October City and Fifth Settlement, passing through six stations along a 60km trip. In spite of the distance, the ticket price for this trip is only EGP 25. Other prices will be decided for the coming routes in accordance with the number of stations the passengers will pass through.
The company uses air-conditioned buses (2015 models at least) with a small library onboard, which helps passengers use their travel time efficiently. In addition, the company’s system only allows up to 60% of the buses’ capacity to be used, ensuring more comfortable trips for the passengers. Thus, only nine out of the 14 seats are allowed to be used. Moreover, the company is planning to add a free WiFi service to the buses it operates.
El-Sawy sees that the Egyptians waste a lot of time and effort travelling via mass transit or driving in congested traffic, which encouraged him to come up with a way to benefit from the problem and turn it into an investment opportunity through Buseet. The company hopes to attract customers by providing the service at a tariff 40% cheaper than popular transportation applications and 75% cheaper than regular taxis, which will help to reduce the congestion on roads by attracting private car owners who will leave their regular vehicle at home.
According to El-Sawy, the company’s idea depends on renting air-conditioned buses from tourism companies, especially as these buses are often out-of-use as a result of the decline in the tourism sector in Egypt. These buses will move through decided-upon routes at specific times, and the seats can be booked in advance through the company’s website. In addition, a message alert will be sent to the customers before the bus reaches the station from where the customer will depart so as to be more time efficient.
The service is currently available on one route linking 6th October City to Fifth Settlement in New Cairo, passing through seven stops: Mall of Arabia, Beverly Hills, Smart Village, Downtown Mall, the National Bank of Egypt on 90 Street, Concord Plaza Mall, and the American University in Cairo.
El-Sawy conducted an agreement with Abou El-Houl Trans Travel to provide buses to Buseet, and agreements with other tourism transportation companies are underway.
According to El-Sawy, the company is intending to expand its service across Greater Cairo during the next few months, in addition to providing the service in Ain El-Sokhna and the North Coast during the next period. Moreover, the company is intending to expand in the Emirati market by early 2017.
El-Sawy said that booking and paying for tickets can be done through the company’s website in cooperation with Payfort. Moreover, the company is seeking to add Fawry payments to its service.
According to El-Sawy, subscription services will be enabled through a virtual wallet on the company’s website by which customers can add credit via payment cards. Customers will be able to add specific packages of credit to their wallets without deciding renewal dates, which enables customers to benefit from the whole amounts they put in their accounts.
With regard to the legal situation of the service, he stressed that the company provides its service legally. El-Sawy conducted partnerships with companies specialised in mass transit, which guarantees that the state will obtain taxes and all the official obligations.
As for the most important standards of choosing drivers, he said that drivers are required to take a drug test and also to take courses at the Road Safety Training Centre. Moreover, drivers will be subject to periodic drug screening for the passengers’ safety.
With regard to attracting investments, El-Sawy said that the company is not planning to attract investments for now, but is primarily working to distribute the service across different areas of Cairo.